Dolphins’ Byron Maxwell outplayed the NFL’s best

Sunday was a day of redemption all around for the Dolphins, who got inspired performances from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, their much maligned offensive line, and running back Jay Ajayi. But there was a player on defense who also joined in on the fun.

For cornerback Byron Maxwell, defending the best receiver in football was just what his ailing season needed.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Maxwell, he of poor alignments and missed tackles and the victim of one running back hurdle, wouldn’t perform all that well against Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, the game’s most skilled route runner before and after the catch.

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But Maxwell allowed just three completions against five targets for 23 total yards when guarding Brown, and on two straight plays in the final quarter recorded pass breakups. He recorded four in total on the day, including a vital third down play.

“Yeah, he was hot,” Maxwell said of Brown’s visible frustration. “Who cares?”

After his having such trouble against lesser quality pass receivers, Maxwell’s fury against Brown was a pleasant surprise. Clearly, Miami’s strategy was to go all-in against Brown, and hope that the veteran would live up to his experience. They did, and he did.

Now the test is whether he can retain that style of play, and whether or not the defense will improve as a result. Currently, as a unit, they rank just No. 26 in football.

“I think it is and it can be,” Maxwell said of this preview into what could be. “We just got to go back to work like we did this week and put the work in. Hard work always pays off.”

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