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Dolphins beat Jets to pull to .500: Good, Bad, Ugly

NFL: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets on Sunday, coming away with the 27-23 win. It was not always a pretty game, but it was effective and it proved the Dolphins can win, even when things are not always working. The Dolphins stuck to their game plan, and eventually made it work. It was effective, and it was exactly what the team needed to do.

There were plenty of things that were good on Sunday, just like there were bad and ugly things as well. We break down the game taking a look at all three categories for the Dolphins against the Jets.

The Good

  • Jay Ajayi, running back - Ajayi did not make history with his third straight 200-yard performance. He had to settle for 111 yards and a touchdown against the number one run defense - well, the former number one run defense - in the league. Ajayi was patient early in the game, when the run was not working, and it paid off later in the contest when he started picking up chunks of yards and running down the clock. Ajayi now has over 500 yards of rushing, in just the last three games.
  • Adam Gase, head coach - Gase was stubborn on Sunday, and it was exactly what the team needed. Facing off against a good run defense, and struggling to get the run established early in the game, there had to be a temptation to turn to the passing game and try to force it to work. Instead, Gase, a first year head coach, stayed with his game plan, and made it work. It was a great performance for the coach.
  • Ryan Tannehill, quarterback - It was definitely not the best day Tannehill has had, but that was because it did not need to be. Tannehill did exactly what he was asked, and he did it well. He finished the game 17-for-28 for 149 yards with a touchdown, giving him a decent 86.8 passer rating. He moved in and out of the pocket, and he was smart with when he threw the ball away. Again, it was not a great performance, but it was exactly what the team needed from him.
  • Kenyan Drake/Jakeem Grant, returners - Both return men had touchdowns - though a penalty on Drake actually called back Grant’s return. And, it was Grant’s back and forth across the field return that then allowed Drake to break his return on the re-kick. Special teams was not perfect on Sunday, but the two returners provided some excitement.
  • Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle - Suh was ridiculous on Sunday, tallying five tackles, a sack, and a pass defensed. He was constantly putting pressure on both the passing attack for the Jets and the running game. Suh looked like the disruptive, dominating defensive tackle fans want him to be - which really is not new but, as a defensive tackle, it is hard sometimes to notice - and he set the tone for the defense.
  • Cameron Wake, defensive end - Wake was the best of the good, which is why he was saved for last. While Suh set the tone, Wake was the soloist slicing through the rest of the orchestra. He was in the backfield, he was forcing running backs to change direction, he was sacking Ryan Fitzpatrick and forcing fumbles. Wake was the All-Pro, Pro Bowl Wake on Sunday. Four tackle, two sacks, two forced fumbles later, he and Suh never let up on the pressure throughout the game.

The Bad

  • Penalties - The Dolphins committed eight (accepted) penalties for 86 yards in the game. It was a flag fest throughout the day, and the Jets had 10 penalties for 77 yards. It seemed like every time a team made a stop, there were free yards coming from somewhere. Some of it can be deemed a discipline issue, while some of it is just in-game play. It needs to be cleaned up, however.
  • Matt Darr, punter - It was not a bad day for Darr, who averaged 40 yards on his three punts, with two of them inside the 20-yard line. It was, however, a bad moment when he let the ball go through his hands on an (admittedly high) snap, with the Jets recovering, and ultimately scoring the go-ahead touchdown. The Grant return-re-kick-Drake return sequence made it a moot point, but it still was not a great moment.
  • Dominique Jones, tight end - Again, it was not a bad day for Jones - and it probably could have been a great day - but there was a bad moment. Jones caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Unfortuately for him, he was targeted four times, with that fourth pass a strike from Ryan Tannehill on a third-down play where Tannehill stepped up in the pocket to avoid the initial pressure, then rolled out to his left and hit Jones at the sticks in the chest. It was just a drop, and everyone had them, but that was a horrible moment to have that happen.

The Ugly

  • The Game - This was an ugly game, especially when compared to the first two wins in this three-game streak for the Dolphins. Mistakes, missed opportunities, and a strong Jets defense all made this a grind-it-out type of game. And it was ugly. But the Dolphins won ugly, so it was not a bad thing. In the past few years, Miami crumbles in this game - especially after the late Jets touchdown to take the lead. This Miami team, however, stepped up, and figured out how to win. It may have been ugly, but ugly in this case was good.