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Dolphins' defense showing early signs of dominance

It's very early, but this might be the best Miami Dolphins' defense in years.

The group continued to show early signs of dominance in Miami's 31-30 loss Saturday to the Carolina Panthers. Miami's starting defense didn't allow a first down in the entire first quarter and held the Panthers scoreless in one-and-a-half quarters of work, although you wouldn't know it by the final score.

In addition, Miami's starting defense nearly put points on the board. Cornerback Jamar Taylor, who has the inside track to win a starting job, picked off Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and returned it 27 yards. Taylor was stopped at the Panthers' 3-yard line to complete Miami's top play of the game.

The Dolphins mostly baffled Newton and held him to 4 of 10 passing for 42 yards and an interception. It's a safe assumption that Newton won't be the only quarterback to find trouble with Miami's defense this year, which has playmakers at multiple positions.

Taylor brought the flash, but the rest of the Dolphins' starting defense brought the muscle.

New Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (one tackle) commanded double teams and clogged up running lanes. Safety Reshad Jones also made three stops at the line of scrimmage during the first two drives, which were three-and-outs for the Panthers. Miami's defense also had a goal-line stand where they stopped Newton on fourth down.

The Dolphins' first-team defense showed a lot of pertinent things for the regular season in fewer than two quarters of work. These are all promising signs that good things are ahead for that side of the football in South Florida.