The Miami Dolphins went into East Rutherford, New Jersey over the weekend and smacked the New York Jets in the mouth. Miami left East Rutherford’s MetLife Stadium, also now known as Hard Rock Stadium - North, with a 34-13 win and the sixth position in the AFC Playoffs. It was the first sweep of the Jets for Miami since 2009 and it came from an all-around team performance.
Every week, a part of the recap of the game here on The Phinsider is a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the game. Here is our look at the Dolphins at Jets Week 15 game.
- A winning season! - The Dolphins won their ninth game of the season with the victory over the Jets. That ninth victory means the team can finish no worse than 9-7 on the season, the first time the team will be over the .500 mark for the year since 2008. That is definitely worthy of a good slot.
- Cameron Wake, defensive end - Two tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and an interception. Wake had himself a day as he reached the double-digit sack mark for the fourth time in his career (on a side note, he has reached at least 10.5 sacks in every even numbered year since he joined Miami in 2009. Odd.). Wake has been a beast this season and has to be a top contender for the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.
- Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle - Suh played like he is the best defensive tackle in the game on Saturday, just eating alive the Jets’ offensive line, as well as chasing down running backs from behind, recovering the fumble Wake forced, and just being an all-around menace to the Jets. Suh has been playing like this most of the year, but it was definitely on display in prime time for the Dolphins as they look to keep themselves in the AFC Wildcard hunt.
- Matt Moore, quarterback - Moore showed everyone exactly why a team should keep a veteran backup quarterback on their roster. All the preseason talk from fans calling for Moore to be released to traded since he was just eating into the salary cap seemed to go away pretty quickly with a 12-for-18 for 236 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 126.2 passer rating. You realize that stat line means Moore had a touchdown pass on every fourth completion?
- Tony Lippett, cornerback - The former wide receiver had two receptions on Saturday, but now those are called interceptions. He has four picks on the year, and while the second-year player will still make some young-player mistakes, he is becoming a very good cornerback for Miami.
- Jarvis Landry, wide receiver - Landry only had three receptions on Saturday, but he picked up 108 yards and a touchdown on those catches. His highlight of the day was the 66 yard catch and run for the score. He also reached the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
- Kenny Stills, wide receiver - Why not throw Stills in here? He only had one catch on Saturday, but it was a 52-yard touchdown down the middle of the field, a throw Moore put right on the money. It was a thing of beauty, both from the quarterback and the receiver.
- Dion Sims, tight end - Remember when Sims was “only” a blocking tight end? His two touchdowns on Saturday do not remember that. He caught four passes during the game, the team high, for 31 yards with the two score. He now has multiple receptions in each of the last five games for Miami, and he has four touchdowns on the year.
- Adam Gase / Marwan Maalouf / Darren Rizzi - The three coaches are the team’s “replay triumvirate” (I just made that up, but I like it) and they were on their game on Saturday. Miami challenged two plays early in the contest, and they got them both right. It seems ridiculous that the NFL rules state that a team gets two replay challenges, and if they get them both right, they get one more. So, Miami twice proved the referees were wrong, and their reward was exactly the same thing as after the Jets challenged and failed - one remaining replay challenge for the remainder of the game. Miami did not need it, but it would be nice for the league to not punish the replay triumvirate for being good.
- Xavien Howard, cornerback - Wow. I almost forgot to put Howard into the good. Welcome back to the rookie cornerback who was expected to get between 10 and 15 snaps in the game, but was pressed into full-time action when Byron Maxwell left the game with an ankle injury. Having not played in the last nine games, Howard was suddenly asked to cover Brandon Marshall throughout much of the game. Marshall was targeted 11 times, recording one whole reception for 16 yards. Yeah, Maxwell played pretty well.
- UPDATE: Walt Aikens, safety - I almost forgot Howard, but I did forget Aikens. The backup safety has become one of the key members of Miami’s special teams units, and he scored points for the second straight week in that role. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, he returned a blocked extra point for a 75-yard two-point defensive conversion. This week, Aikens blocked a punt, then turned around, found the ball, scooped it up, and ran it in for an 11-yard touchdown. Aikens is making special plays right now, and I am sorry that I forgot to put him in here on the initial publication. (H/T: dwanathan).
- Penalties - This continues to be an issue for the Dolphins, who were penalized nine times in the games for 70 yards. Some of those are defensive players trying to be aggressive and get off quickly on the snap, but at some point, the Dolphins have to clean up the issue.
- Tackling - Some of the Dolphins’ tackling issues this game could be attributed to Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins both trying to play the game with casts on their arms, but this is not the first time tackling has been an issue for Miami. They got away with it, even as Bilal Powell did everything for the Jets offense. They may not be able to get away with it against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots over the next two weeks.
You know what. This game was too good to have a real ugly. So, here’s what I will do, since this is a “Good, Bad, and Ugly” article:
- Having to root for the Patriots - Yes, New England won and it helped the Dolphins by giving the Denver Broncos a sixth loss on the year. But it felt dirty to want to see Tom Brady and the Patriots do well. It felt wrong. It felt.....ugly.