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FOXBOROUGH — Kyle Van Noy looked as if he was sliding into second base. But it was the football he was after.

The Patriots linebacker was revving on the defensive left edge when a shotgun snap to Ryan Tannehill whizzed past the Dolphins quarterback. Van Noy and Tannehill dived simultaneously after the loose piggy, and Tannehill actually made first contact with it.

Van Noy, however, had the final say.

He ripped the ball out of Tannehill’s grasp and secured it, giving the Patriots a first down at the Miami 22 in the second quarter. The Patriots scored on the next play, a 22-yard run by James White.


“I just ran to the ball and got kind of lucky,’’ Van Noy said. “I guess I just wanted it more than he did. I just try to be a heady football player and get the ball.’’

Van Noy even did a little celebratory dance with his teammates. It wasn’t White’s now famous Kodak Bop, but it was a picture that helped tell the story of an outstanding bounce-back day for the defense.

New England held the previously undefeated Dolphins to just 172 total yards, sealing off holes and stifling Tannehill.

Tannehill was under the gun all afternoon. The Patriots sacked him twice but landed five hits total. Running backs Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake had precious little room to run.

Van Noy was asked if there was a sense of urgency among the defenders after back-to-back rough outings.

“I would say so,’’ he said. “I think it’s a testament to the guys we have here that just work. That is our mind-set here, and we did that as a team. We are going to continue to do that moving forward.’’

The Patriots received big contributions from a lot of players on defense, including the first interception of rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson’s career.


“Well, we really didn’t anticipate getting out-physicaled like the way we did,’’ said Dolphins coach Adam Gase. “They put a lot of pressure on Ryan even though they weren’t pressuring with blitzes.’’

Edelman returns

The Patriots on Monday will welcome back receiver Julian Edelman, who finished off his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

“You know, it will be great to have him,’’ said Tom Brady, who has long counted Edelman as one of his most trusted receivers. “We haven’t seen him in four weeks, but I know he’ll be ready. And it’s a short week, so I’m sure he’ll be in here ready to go. Everyone loves Jules.’’

The Patriots don’t have to make an immediate roster move to make room for Edelman, but one will be coming in the next few days so they’ll be at the limit of 53 for Thursday’s game against the Colts.

Light reflective

Matt Light was recognized during a halftime ceremony on Sunday.
Matt Light was recognized during a halftime ceremony on Sunday.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Matt Light was honored at halftime, a day after the three-time Super Bowl champion left tackle was enshrined in the franchise’s Hall of Fame.

Light played his entire 11-year career with the Patriots (2001-11), protecting Brady’s blindside during 11 straight winning campaigns. He stepped in for fellow Patriots Hall of Famer Bruce Armstrong in his rookie season and helped lead New England to its first Super Bowl title.

“When I think about my time here in New England, so much of the rest of my career was developed and really honed in that first year,’’ he said. “I got thrown into the fire as a young guy taking over for a legend and trying to keep up with a very complicated offense and during a season in which everything happened in so many unique ways, whether it was 9/11 or that injury to [Drew] Bledsoe or our crazy playoff run, and that entire season is really my career in a nutshell.’’


Flowers, Chung back

The Patriots welcomed back defensive stalwarts Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung after they missed last week’s loss in Detroit with concussions.

The Patriots’ inactives included defensive ends Keionta Davis, Derek Rivers, and Geneo Grissom; cornerback Eric Rowe; offensive linemen Ted Karras and Cole Croston; and tight end Jacob Hollister.

Bentley in a sling

Rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who was put on injured reserve last week, was spotted in the postgame locker room with his right arm in a sling . . . The victory was the 300th of Robert Kraft’s tenure as Patriots owner and the 280th of Bill Belichick’s coaching career . . . The Dolphins were without three starters, including key defender Reshad Jones and offensive starters DeVante Parker and A.J. Derby. Also inactive for the visitors were quarterbacks David Fales and Luke Falk; linebacker Chase Allen; and defensive end Andre Branch . . . Cordarrelle Patterson played catch with some fans in the stands during pregame and nearly reached the second deck with a couple of his throws.

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.