Sometimes a team wins in a comfortable fashion. Sometimes a team wins in an ugly fashion. This game was the latter for the Dolphins. On paper, Miami should have easily beaten the Jets, who were 2-9 coming into this game. However, division games are ALWAYS tough. The Jets came out and took it to the Dolphins on the ground. With a stat line that normally appears in a triple option college offense, the Jets ran the ball 49 times for 277 yards. That looks bad, but it could have been even worse. The Jets ran for over 200 yards in the first half. The Jets only threw the ball 8 times before the final drive. The usually-washed-up-but-awesome-against-the-Dolphins Chris Johnson led the charge with 17 carries and 107 yards. Chris Ivory had 16 carries for 62 yards though it felt like more than that. Greg Salas scored the only Jets TD on a 20 yard end around.
I'm highlighting the Jets rushing stats because it reflects on how poorly the Dolphins defense played in the first half. The Dolphins finally tightened up in the second half forcing some 3-and-outs and ultimately giving the offense a chance to take the lead. Jelani Jenkins led the team with 16 tackles. Cameron Wake had a ridiculous sack of Geno Smith where Wake simply ran over the blocker and got to Smith. Koa Misi also picked up a key sack that forced a longer field goal attempt that kicker Nick Folk missed, setting up Miami's game winning drive. More on the missed kicks later. The newly acquired R.J. Stanford started his first ever NFL game but he and Grimes were non-factors as the Jets rarely threw the ball. Safety Reshad Jones was ultimately the difference-maker as he make several key tackles, including what appeared to be a forced fumble and recovery, but the runner was ruled down by contact and the replay wasn't conclusive enough to award Jones play. On the final drive, Jones corralled a pass intended for tight end Jeff Cumberland, but caromed off Jelani Jenkins and found it's way to Jones. This is the second straight week that Miami has given up over 200 yards rushing. This will be a big concern moving forward as the offenses they play have more passing firepower than the Jets.
The offense wasn't as sharp against the Jets as they were the previous week against the Broncos. They struggled to sustain some drives, but ultimately made enough plays to win the game. Tannehill was efficient: 25-35, 235 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT that Lamar Miller attempted to catch, but tipped into the air. Tannehill spoke with the ESPN crew after the game and said the Jets took away most of the deep stuff, forcing him to dink-and-dunk more than he preferred. He did have a beautiful deep pass attempt that would have been a touchdown had Wallace put forth more effort to make the catch. Brian Hartline made one catch early in the first, but left with an injury. Wallace had the most yards on the night, finishing 6 for 69. Jarvis Landry continues to emerge as Tannehill's top target as he caught 8 passes for 68 yards. Miami rushed for 74 total yards, with Lamar Miller getting 56 yards on 13 carries (4.3 YPC). The Dolphins need to use Miller more in the upcoming weeks as he is rushing well. He scored Miami's only TD on a fourth quarter scamper in the red zone.
Miami played well overall on special teams. Caleb Sturgis missed another field goal, but was the better kicker on the night as Nick Folk missed 2 field goals and had one field goal that barely made it over the crossbar. Sturgis kicked the game winner just after the 2 minute warning in the fourth, giving Miami it's first lead of the game. Brandon Fields is back with 4 punts for 215 yards (54.0 yards per kick average). Dion Jordan blocked a punt. Both teams did some weird kickoff stuff with short kickoffs and stuff; Sturgis kicked one out of bounds. Coverage teams were solid overall.
Miami gets an ugly win over a division opponent, moving their overall record to 7-5, and moving them into the 2nd wildcard spot. They have a 6-3 conference record and a 3-1 division record. That stuff bodes well for them moving into the playoff hunt. However, Miami will need to play better on both sides of the ball if they plan on making the playoffs. As mentioned, division games are always tough and an ugly win is still a win. Now its time to focus on Baltimore.