Miami completes season sweep as Jets are grounded by miscues.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Usually, if your team puts up 25 points and holds the opposition to 104 total yards, you’re going to win the football game.
But Sunday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins was just one of those days for the Jets.
Their defense was dominant, they ran the football, and Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. But two kickoff return touchdowns from Ted Ginn Jr. and a fumble return TD by Jason Taylor helped Miami steal their second victory of the season over these Jets, who now sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the AFC East with Sunday’s 30-25 loss.
Perhaps most bewildering were the two touchdowns by Ginn, of 100 and 101 yards respectively. A unit that is widely regarded as one of the best in the game, and which hadn’t allowed a touchdown all season, surrendered scores on consecutive kickoffs, each infinitely deflating to the comeback hopes of the Jets.
“I take pride in special teams, so when a guy runs back two kickoff returns, in my mind we’re responsible for the loss,” special teamer Wallace Wright said. “That killed us today. That’s just how I am. They can say everybody contributed to the loss, and maybe people contributed to the loss. We had some penalties today, but in my mind we lost the game. That’s how I look at it. That’s unacceptable, two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game.”
The game had all the makings of a defensive slugfest through the first 30 minutes of play, with the rivals playing to a 3-3 tie through two quarters. Both offenses were anemic at best, with the two clubs combining for a whopping 179 yards of total offense
Mark Sanchez was equally miserable, going 8-16 for 54 yards and looking downright lost in the process. The only bright spot was the defense of the Jets, who were able to get consistent pressure on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne throughout the game totaling six sacks. The unit kept the Jets in the game, and second quarter field goals by each team left the score tied at three at the end of the half.
But what seemed like a lesson in offensive ineptitude morphed into a shootout in a wild second half. After Jay Feely gave the Jets a 6-3 lead early in the third quarter, Ginn notched the first of his two return TD’s on the ensuing kickoff, streaking down the sideline to give the Dolphins their first lead of the day at 10-6. On the very next possession for the Jets, running back Shonn Greene took a handoff off right tackle and coughed up the football, the pigskin bouncing perfectly up into the arms of Miami defensive end Jason Taylor who took it 48 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, the Jets were down 17-6 before they blinked.
Sanchez would not let his offense go quietly, though, as he engineered a five-play, 29-yard drive after a muffed punt by the Davone Bess, capping it off by calling his own number for a one-yard touchdown scamper. The Jets were right back in the game at 17-13, needing only a stop on defense to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead.
Or so they thought. On the ensuing kickoff Ginn struck again, this time eluding several Jets tacklers before taking his second kickoff return of the day to the house for six, this one of the 101-yard variety. You could hear the air seep out of Giants stadium with each step Ginn took towards the end zone, seemingly providing the dagger for the Dolphins late in the third quarter.
But the Jets stormed back behind Sanchez, as the rookie orchestrated a three-play, 74-yard drive culminating in a 19-yard touchdown catch by Braylon Edwards, that once again brought the Jets to within five. But instead of kicking the extra point, head coach Rex Ryan decided to go for the two-point conversion, which ended up failing, keeping the Dolphins lead at five.
It appeared the Dolphins had finally put the game away halfway through the fourth quarter when they churned out a 13-play, 67-yard drive that elapsed 7:47 off the clock, and ended with a Chad Henne touchdown pass to Joey Haynos from five yards out. The Jets weren’t out of haymakers, though. Just 2:56 later, Sanchez found Dustin Keller at the goal line, and the tight end who had eight catches for 76 yards make a shoestring grab and broke the plane, bring the Jets back once again from the depths of defeat. But the two-point conversion once again failed after an illegal shift penalty moved the offense back five yards, leaving the lead at five with five minutes to play.
The defense that had been outstanding all game long came up huge once again forcing a three-and-out, giving the Jets offense one last shot to pull out the victory. Sanchez, who finished the day 20-35 for 265 yards and two touchdown passes, drove the unit all the way to the Dolphins 12. But the Dolphins defense held strong, and Sanchez’s fourth down pass attempt fell harmlessly to the ground in the back of the end zone, handing Gang Green their third loss in their last four games, and sending them into their bye week with a disappointing 4-4 record.
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