It's amazing how in a matter of six days, Jets fans went from being so mouthy and arrogant to so quiet and depressed. Quite frankly, it's a beautiful thing.
And when you come across one of those Jet fans, be sure to tell him or her that the Jets haven't beaten the Dolphins at home in Jersey since 2007. The Dolphins closed Giants Stadium with a win in their final trip. And now they open New Meadowlands Stadium with a win in their first game at the facility.
The Dolphins are also 4-2 against the Jets over the last three years under Tony Sparano.
If you can't tell, I'm obviously thrilled with the Dolphins' 10-6 win over the Jets on Sunday. Nothing cures the hangover from a loss to the Browns quite like beating the Jets in their own stadium.
Without further ado, let's get to the game's highlights:
Defense continues to carry team
Over the past month or so, we've seen Mike Nolan's defense carry this team. On Sunday, that trend continued as the defense forced two New York turnovers and held the Jets to just six points.
It all started up front. Last week, I stressed the importance of stopping the run against the Jets. Miami's defensive line was dominant on Sunday, holding the Jets two tailbacks to just 66 yards on 27 carries - their third consecutive dominant performance against a usually strong running attack. Paul Soliai continues to show he's worth investing a long-term contract in as the team's long-term nose tackle. He continually either ate up two blockers or disrupted the rushing play - making two tackles behind the line of scrimmage as well as sacking Mark Sanchez once.
Kendall Langford, Randy Starks, and Tony McDaniel were also all excellent on Sunday. Langford's one sack and forced fumble, in fact, set the Dolphins up for their only touchdown of the game. If there's one area that we can clearly say that the front office and coaching staff got right, it was building up the defensive line.
Of course, all of the defensive efforts were highlighted by Cameron Wake, who is making a strong case this year for not only being a first-team All-Pro but also a serious Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Wake now leads the league with 14 sacks after coming up with two sacks in a three play span on NY's final possession - the second sack being the game clincher for the Dolphins. Wake also had a tackle for loss on a Brad Smith rush attempt as being one of the two defenders (Channing Crowder the other) to make the stop on the 4th & 1 rush attempt by Shonn Greene.
Other defensive standouts on Sunday included Karlos Dansby, Channing Crowder (yes, the guy so many love to hate) and Sean Smith (who had four passes defensed and probably should have picked off three of them).
Speaking of interceptions, congrats to Nolan Carroll on his first interception. It couldn't have come at a better time - setting up the Dolphins first scoring drive.
I won't deny that the Dolphins were helped by numerous key drops out of these Jet receivers - none bigger than endzone drop by Santonio Holmes. Still, the Jets gained just 18.6 yards per possession. Six of their 15 drives were "three and outs." And nine of their 15 drives failed to even result in 20 net yards of offense - a dominant all-around performance by this Miami defense.
Fields the game's MVP
I honestly cannot remember a game where a punter was the number one star of the game. I can't recall a time in which a punter had this kind of positive impact on a team's success. On Sunday in lousy conditions, Brandon Fields was absolutely brilliant, changing the field position battle in favor of the Dolphins numerous times.
Fields punted ten times for 564 yards (56.4 yard average per punt), averaging a net of just under 50 yards per punt. That is a huge swing in field position. Fields had eight punts from inside his own 25 yard line - including four inside his own 15. But the Jets never had staring position following a Fields punt better than their own 44.
But if you really want to be impressed, just think about these swings in field position:
Punt from own 21...Jets start at own 34
Punt from own 9...Jets start at own 44 (punt fielded at the 30)
Punt from own 13...Jets start at own 41 (punt fielded at the 25)
Punt from own 25...Jets start at own 23
Punt from own 14...Jets start at own 34 (punt fielded at 24)
Punt from own 7...Jets start at own 35
Punt from own 37...Jets start at own 7
Punt from own 24...Jets start at own 30
Punt from own 19...Jets start at own 25
That's how you make up for an inept offense that was forced to punt as often as they were from deep in their own territory.
Offense flat out sucks right now
You could blame it on the weather. But that would be a poor excuse. After all, the Jets still managed 280 yards of offense. The Dolphins squeezed out just 131 - including only six first downs and only three drives of at least 15 yards of offense. In the second half, the offense's longest drive was just 13 yards.
Chad Henne looked terrible today. So that makes two awful performances in a row for Henne, who right now looks incompetent. There are no excuses, people. None. He has been wildly inaccurate. Now he's fumbling. He couldn't even fall on a fumble correctly. There isn't much he's doing right.
Frankly, I don't know how anyone can defend him anymore after watching his two performances these last two weeks.
But to put all of the blame on Henne for the offense's ineptitude would be unfair. The running game again failed to get going. The offensive line continues to get no push up front at the point of attack. And the receivers aren't getting open consistently.
Lots of problems on the offensive side of the ball for the Dolphins.
There's been a lot of talk about the incident that occurred along the Jets sideline during one of Brandon Fields' punts. Nolan Carroll, who is a gunner on the coverage team, was purposely tripped by a member of the Jets' coaching staff. The jackass - uh, I mean culprit - was Jets' head strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi.
You can read all about the incident (and see video) by heading over to any of the numerous South Florida newspaper websites (such as this one).
I don't want to spend too much time on this, though. My one thought is that I hope the guy is suspended without pay for the rest of the season (postseason included) by the Jets. That would be very fair punishment for a guy who is supposed to be a leader and set an example for his players to follow. He could have seriously injured Carroll. In a league where there's so much attention being given to preventing injuries and unnecessary hits, I hope the Jets and the league realize how ridiculous this action was and come down hard on a coach just as they would a player.
A few more quick thoughts on Sunday's win:
- I'd be crazy not to highlight the contributions of Reshad Jones and Jonathon Amaya. Both were special teams monsters, with three tackles each. Jones, in particular, is becoming a special teams star. There's a noticeable difference when he's out there compared to when he is not.
- Sean Smith made some excellent pass break-ups. But the kid has got to start catching some of these. Remember that interception in the preseason a year ago - when he used one hand to make the pick? Where are those hands now? Seriously? And why can't any of these defensive backs catch the football?
- Dan Carpenter continues he's excellent season. Those were tough conditions to kick a 47 yard field goal in and he drilled in right down the middle.
- Tony Sparano 3. Rex Ryan 1.
- If this image doesn't put a smile on your face, check your pulse.
- The Dolphins kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Sunday. And slim playoff hopes are better than no playoff hopes.