The New York Jets ended their disastrous 2014 season – and likely Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach – with a 4-12 record and a 37-24 win over the Miami Dolphins.
When the Jets and Dolphins met last, the Jets shoved the ball down Miami’s throat before failing to adjust and ultimately losing a hideously ugly 16-13 game.
The Jets came out on defense and nearly sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the endzone, and after forcing the Dolphins to punt in their own endzone, they started their next Miami territory. The offense stalled in the redzone, and after Geno Smith took a sack to force a long field goal, the normally infallible Nick Folk missed.
After being almost perfect for most of the last two seasons, it’s clear at this point that Folk’s hip injury is an issue.
The Dolphins, who are almost as bad as finishing drives the Jets, came back down the field. The defense held them out of the endzone, and Miami had to settle for a field goal. The Jets managed a touchdown on their next drive, aided by a great throw and catch from Smith to Chris Owusu. Owusu ran it 23 yards for the touchdown later in the drive.
Early in the second quarter, Smith took off running but forgot to tuck the ball into his body, fumbled in his own end, and lost the ball. Miami scored easily, making it 10-7. The Jets bounced back on the next drive, coming down the field to score a touchdown when Smith threw a short pass to a wide open Chris Ivory, who walked in for the score, putting the Jets ahead 14-7. The highlight play of the drive was a [#] yard pass from Smith to Eric Decker.
The Dolphins didn’t do much else until there was under a minute left in the half, when they scored a touchdown to give Miami a 17-14 lead. It was the tenth time the Jets defense allowed a 90+ yard touchdown drive this year. It was also the tenth time the defense allowed a team to score after the 2:00 warning in the first half, seven times allowing touchdowns and three times allowing field goals.
Chris Owusu continued his breakout day with an 87 yard kickoff return to open the second half, where the Jets offense promptly stalled on the two yard line, failed to convert on fourth down, and gave the ball back to Miami without scoring any points at all.
On the very next play, the vaunted Jets defense allowed a 97 yard run for a Miami touchdown, and the Dolphins were up 24-14. On the next drive, Smith again connected with Decker, who beat Miami’s Cortland Finnegan, for a 74 yard touchdown reception and pulled the Jets back into the game, 24-21. It was the longest pass of Smith’s career, and the longest reception of Decker’s career.
Smith and Decker hooked up again for another 50 yards, improving their career days, but again the offense stalled in the redzone. The final play of the drive before the field goal was an absolutely ridiculous play from Marty Morhinwig which called for a direct snap to Bilal Powell, who flipped it to Jeremy Kerley, who was supposed to throw the ball to Geno Smith for an “easy” touchdown. Unfortunately, Kerley got crushed, the ball didn’t get to Smith, bounced off the grass and his foot, and into the Miami defender’s arms. If the refs hadn’t initially called it an incomplete pass, it would have been an interception for a touchdown. On review, the play stood, but only because there wasn’t conclusive to overturn it.
Folk then tied the game at 24-24.
The defense kept Miami off the scoreboard again, and the Smith/Decker magic went back to work. Again, the offense stalled in the redzone, and again, Nick Folk came out for the 23 yard field goal. The Jets took the lead, 27-23. Miami attempted a 53 yard field goal at the end of their next drive, but missed.
The last six minutes of the game were some of the most exciting of the season. On fourth down, the Jets faked a punt, and on a pass from Ryan Quigley to Zach Sudfeld, picked up 38 yards. Smith later threw a 23 yard pass to Jeff Cumberland for the touchdown. 34-24 Jets.
The Dolphins were held off the board for the rest of the game. After Miami benefited from Jason Babin’s weekly “roughing the passer” penalty in the form of extending a drive, the Jets strip sacked Tannehill, regaining possession. Nick Folk added three more points.
It was a strange day. Geno Smith, also vying for a job somewhere next season, played the game of his life. His final line on the day was 20/25 for 358 yards with three touchdown passes, zero interceptions, one lost fumble, and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. He took one sack.
Eric Decker also played the best game of his career. He had 10 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown. Chris Ivory led all rushers today with 13 carries for 29 yards. Chris Owusu’s breakout day included one reception for 36 yards, one rush for 23 yards, and two kick returns for 102 yards.
monster lineman Sheldon Richardson left the game with a head injury and didn’t return, but let fans know via Twitter that he was all right. The defense sacked Ryan Tannehill seven times. David Harris led the way with 2.5 sacks today, and 9 tackles on the day. He is a free agent this offseason.
Two stats that stood out but were covered up by the victory: the Jets were 1-5 in he redzone, and 6 of 14 on third down. This has to improve if the Jets want to win going forward.
It was likely Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach of the New York Jets. Assuming this is the case, he will finish his tenure with a 46-50 record. The two highlight seasons of his time here came early. In 2009 the Jets went 7-9 and in 2010 they went 11-5. He took those teams to the AFC Championship game but ultimately fell short of winning the Super Bowl (his stated goal). Rex Ryan is still well liked in New York, even by fans who think it’s time for a fresh start, which is more than can be said about a lot of soon-to-be-fired head coaches. He seems to love the Jets as much as fans do.
As the Jets have missed the postseason, this is the last recap of the year. The Jets will, of course, make their return in 2015. Kickoff is in September. See you then.