The NY Jets were humbled last night at Landshark Stadium in Miami. Unable to stop the vicious Wildcat run formation that the Dolphins introduced to the NFL back in 2008, the Jets lost a heartbreaking key divisional game to the Miami Dolphins 31-27 on Monday Night Football. Ronnie Brown scored his third TD on a third and two with under ten seconds left, on a play where a stop would’ve forced OT. Braylon Edwards’s (5-64 yds TD) coming out party was spoiled by a defense that could not find a way to stop Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Now at 3-2 the AFC East leading Jets remain tied with the Pats while the Dolphins at 2-3, inch closer.
The first drive for Miami was a sign of things to come. Seven minutes, led by an assortment of runs off of direct snaps to RB Ronnie Brown led the Fish up the field. A Brown TD capped the drive and a 7-0 Dolphin lead. The Jets answered back. QB Mark Sanchez, looking to rebound from his 3-interception performance in New Orleans, led the Jets downfield and finished it with a 3-yard TD pass to Edwards to tie it up 7-7.
Edwards who only logged three days of practice time with the Green and White since coming over from the Browns last week, could become the first true tall deep ball and red zone threat the Jets have had at WR in a long time. Keyshawn Johnson and 1980’s Jet star WR Al Toon come to mind, though Edwards possesses a special athleticism that allows him to grab the tough throws. Catching consistently will be the key for Edwards success as a Jet. He leads the league in targeted drops over the past season.
In the second quarter, a fake punt snap to all purpose player Brad Smith , the Jets second successful fake punt of the game, led to a Jay Feely FG and a 10-10 tie. Feely added another at the end of the half after Sanchez administered a solid two minute drill. The drill coming on a drive capped by a heady tough run out of bounds by the “San-chize”, stopping the clock to allow time for the kick. The Jets led 13-10 at the half and considering how things started, had to feel good on the road in a divisional game having regained the lead.
The Dolphins however continued to stuff the Wildcat down the Jets throat. A Chad Henne to TE Anthony Fasano TD made it 17-13 Fish. Henne, making his 2nd NFL start threw for 241 yards and two TDs , shocking the Jet coaches with his efficiency in the passing game all night. The Jets had no sacks in the game “We made that guy look like Dan Marino,” Ryan said begrudgingly during the post game press conference.
Down 17-13, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer then unleashed the Manchez. The rookie’s bomb to speedy WR David Clowney put the Jets in the Miami red zone in a flash. The Jets have lacked a quick strike ability for years. Santana Moss maybe? With slot WR Chansi Stuckey now with Eric Mangini in Cleveland as part of the Edwards deal, Clowney (4 catches 72 yds) will find time in the slot and give the Jets more chances to score fast.. After the Clowney catch, on third and long, Sanchez threw a great ball down the sidelines that Edwards, heavily covered made a terrific play on before diving for the pilon. The catch was ruled a TD but a Miami challenge took the TD away from Edwards. It left the ball on the one where Thomas Jones punched it in for a 20-17 Jet lead. Another Jet Miami classic was brewing.
The Dolphins then went on another time consuming drive to end the third and on the 1st play of the fourth regained the lead on a Ronnie Brown TD dive. 24-20 Miami. Brown was impossible to stop all night out of the Wildcat faking reverses to Ricky Williams, running off tackle , running sweeps. The Jets defense never got comfortable, and were unable to throw the Dolphin backs for any big drive ending losses on first or second down. Instead the Fish were grinding 4 yards, 5 yards at a clip all night.
The Jets and Sanchez answered the bell again midway through the fourth. A bomb to Edwards well covered by former Giant Will Allen was called pass interference on the Miami 1-yard line. The Replay showed good coverage, but the Jets capitalized on the call with a Thomas Jones TD plunge and a 27-24 lead. The problem for the Jets was that there was over five minutes left: too much time left for a tired confused Gang Green defense that to that point had allowed over 320 total yards (Miami finished with 413 total yards). Unable to get to Henne, and lacking the ability to slow down the Wildcat, the Jets needed to induce a Dolphin mistake.
Instead , the Fish mixed up their play calling on the final drive to perfection. Henne first hit WR Greg Camarillo for a 9nineyard gain. Short three step drops sprinkled around a devastating run attack allowed Henne the time that no other QB has had against the Rex Ryan Jet defense all season. Speedy rookie QB Pat White was even brought in with three minutes left, to run the Wildcat and gained a big first down on a quarterback draw as the Dolphins marched toward the red zone. A key thrid and long was converted with 1:20 left as Henne hit Camarillo with a bullet, setting up a first and goal inside the Jet 10-yard line. Refusing to expend timeouts, sure his defense wouldn’t give up 6, Rex Ryan left it up to his defense. A big Kerry Rhodes tackle of Brown, shedding a fullback block on a sweep, left Miami with a third down; one time out and ten seconds left. A stop would’ve forced Miami to tie it on 4th down, with a FG forcing OT. Instead Brown powered through the wilting Jet interior and it’s exhausted run killer NG Kris Jenkins, for the 31-27 win. Five lead changes took place in the fourth, the final one leaving NY no time on the clock to respond.
Next up for the Jets is a home date with a Buffalo Bills team that is 1-4 and in disarray. The pitiful Oakland Raiders then follow the Bills. 5-2 is within the Jets grasp. A re-match with Miami follows these two extremely winnable games. Before the Jets get their chance for payback with the Fish in Week 8, they’ll have to take care of business by doing what all good teams do. They have to smother struggling teams and lesser teams from the get go. After losses to the high powered Saints and the top running team in the NFL in the Dolphins, it’s time to regroup and regain that confidence and swagger that at 3-0, had many including the Jets as one of the top teams in football.