This past Sunday, the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets 13-6 in a game that can be called nothing more than a defensive slugfest. Neither offense looked like there was any danger to them taking over the game, while Miami’s defense rose up to not only score, but win the game. Jerome Baker, Kiko Alonso, T.J. McDonald, and Walt Aikens all picked off Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, with Baker’s pick-six scoring the only touchdown of the contest and Aikens’ interception sealing the game. Cameron Wake and Akeem Spence each recorded two sacks, bringing down Darnold at key points in the game.
The Dolphins’ defense forced five three-and-outs from the Jets. New York had drives of fewer than five plays seven times, with two of the interceptions coming on the fourth play of a possession and the second play of a drive. The Jets had one drive in the first half that saw them take more than four snaps, a seven-snap, 45-yard drive just before halftime that results in a field goal.
Basically, it was a good day for Miami’s defense, putting the tough losses of the last couple of weeks behind them. They will be tested by better offenses moving forward, but it was a good time to meet an inept offense, and the Dolphins too advantage of that.
But, there is a hidden star of this game that is not getting nearly enough credit. Playing just twelve snaps, he had seven impact plays.
Dolphins punter Matt Haack was exceptional on Sunday. Like the Jets, Miami’s offense liked to stall. They had six three-and-out possessions, including two in the final six minutes of the game, clinging to a one-touchdown lead. Haack repeatedly made the Jets face a long field, and he did it like it was nothing. Nine times Haack was on the field to punt (the other three snaps were as a field goal or extra point holder), and seven of his punts ended inside the Jets’ 20-yard line.
Miami had 168 yards of offense on Sunday, the Jets had 282 yards of offense. Haack punted the ball 402 yards. He averaged 44.7 yards per kick, and he had a long of 58 yards, and he also had a 57 yard punt. His shortest punts were 36, 37, and 38 yards, and all of those were punts from inside Jets territory, where he pinned the Jets at their own 15-, 12-, and 11-yard lines, respectively.
As for the two punts that did not end inside the 20? One was at the 24, with a penalty then backing the Jets to their own 14. The other was an eight-yard return to the 20 on the 58-yard punt.
Haack was a master on Sunday. He is currently 11th in the league with a 45.5 yards average this year, 0.2 yards from moving into the top ten in the league. He leads the league in pinning opponents inside the 20, having done it 26 times this year (tied with Cleveland Browns punter Britton Colquitt and four ahead of third place). He has forced the most fair catches this season with 17 of his 49 kicks having no chance of a return despite the returner catching the ball - with Green Bay punter JK Scott three fair catches fewer.
The Dolphins defense played extremely well against the Jets - and they will need to do that again this upcoming week when they face the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They were not the only hero of the game, however, as Haack dominated in every punting situation. He continually changed field position, even when the Dolphins offense went no where. He was a weapon, and he deserves to be recognized for it.