*Updated, 1:15 a.m. ET
*The Jets were the team out of the playoff hunt, playing at the end of their second short week, with the less experienced QB at the helm. Yet for the first half against postseason-contending Miami, they gave their AFC East brethren everything they could handle as the teams went into the locker room at intermission with the Dolphins holding a 13-10 lead.
But the dam broke in a fateful third quarter as QB Matt Moore, getting his first start in five seasons for the injured Ryan Tannehill, found receivers with short passes and long ones while the Jets' special teams suffered another Miami meltdown and QB Bryce Petty left early after taking a big hit in the pocket.
The bottom line: The Dolphins paid the Jets back for last year's sweep by scoring their second win over the Green & White this season, 34-13, at MetLife Stadium.
"They were prepared," head coach Todd Bowles said after the loss. "When we play like that, it all falls on me. It starts at the top. I have to do a better job and they have to do a better job. But it starts with me."
With the loss, the Jets fell to 4-10 on the year and will be heading to Foxboro, MA, for next Saturday's rematch with the first-place Patriots. The Dolphins improved to 9-5.
Here are 10 observations as the game unfolded on a cold night at the end of a snowy, rainy, bleak day at MetLife Stadium:
1. There's That Fast Start
The Jets offense finally got that fast start they've been seeking as Petty, making his third pro start, directed them 75 yards to their first opening-drive touchdown since the season opener against the Bengals. The magic number was 40, as in Robby Anderson's third consecutive game with exactly one 40-yard reception. This 40-yarder came on a slant route with Robby outracing S Bacarri Rambo and the Miami secondary to the end zone for the 7-0 lead just 3:28 in.
2. Not So Fast
This looked like a reversal of their previous two games when the Jets gave up two quick scores to the Colts and the 49ers, but after a one-first-down stop of the Matt Moore-led Dolphins offense, the Green & White moved into the Miami red zone. This time, though, the Dolphins dialed up an unblocked Cameron Wake charge to a strip sack of Petty that Ndamukong Suh pounced on for the turnover to turn the hosts away on their second possession.
3. 'Fins Respond
Miami marched to first-and-goal at the Jets 1 early in the second quarter but the Jets' goal-line defense appeared to stone the Dolphins on three plays. But the third play, an incompletion from Moore to TE Dion Sims just across the goal line, was reversed to a TD by ref Pete Morelli after coach Adam Gase's replay challenge. Still, Andrew Franks doinked the extra point off the left upright and the Jets maintained the lead at 7-6.
4. Take Two
Bryce Petty committed his second turnover when he tried to get a pass to Brandon Marshall but instead found Wake in coverage for the interception. Like the first turnover, Miami didn't cash in any points.
5. Challenging Times
The Jets were seemingly driving into Miami territory on a Bilal Powell reception to convert a third down. But Gase hit on his second replay challenge and the Jets faced fourth-and-a-foot. Then Powell was stopped and Bowles challenged that spot and Morelli upheld the spot. This all was costly as Moore loaded up and hit WR Kenny Stills with a 52-yard TD strike past rookie CB Juston Burris for a 13-7 lead with 1:58 left in the half.
Burris, making his first NFL start in this game, after the intermission came up with his first pro pick. "Obviously as a team we're not doing as well as we know we can, but personally I'm trying to get better and that experience, these plays, these reps are going to help me for later on."
6. Successful Two-Minute
The Jets, with only 14 points scored in the final two minutes of first halves this season, added to that total with a Nick Folk 48-yard field goal with 18 seconds left to trim the deficit to 13-10. Then a squib kickoff, a completion and a pass interference call on rookie S Doug Middleton put Miami in rapid field goal range. But David Harris came in unchecked on a blitz, forcing Matt Moore into intentional grounding, which moved the visitors out of FG range. And the 10-second runoff from the penalty ended the half.
Powell, playing ahead of sore-kneed Matt Forte, had a strong first half (111 yards from scrimmage) en route to a 162-yard game that included 11 receptions, making him the first Jets back since Richie Anderson in 2000 to have at least 10 catches in a game.
7. Third-Quarter Troubles
Walt Aikens blew past rookie Brandon Wilds' wing block to reject Lachlan Edwards' first punt of the third period, then picked it up and went 11 yards for the score, upping the Dolphins' lead to 20-10. Then on the Jets' very next offensive play, Petty tried to find Anderson on the fly down the left sideline. Instead, he found CB Tony Lippett for the interception. Two long completions and the 'Fins were back with first-and-goal at the Jets 1. Similar to the first time they were in this position, they were stopped on two rushes, then Moore found Sims for the 1-yard TD. Midway through the quarter, Miami's lead opened to 27-10.
8. Jarvis to the House
The problems in Period 3 continued when Moore hit Jarvis Landry on a quick slant and Landry shook CB Marcus Williams' coverage, then outran S Calvin Pryor all the way to the west end zone for a 66-yard TD and a 34-10 lead.
"It happened so fast," S Rontez Miles said of the 21 points in a 4:04 span, "you don't even know how to react to it."
Best Images from the Week 15 Matchup at MetLife Stadium
9. Petty Crunch
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Petty found Anderson for 28 yards to the Miami 13. But on the disjointed play, Suh and Wake came crashing in unimpeded on Petty in the pocket and sent him up and then down to the turf. He walked off slowly under his own power and Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and finished the drive with no points as his fourth-down throw was swatted down at the goal line by LB Spencer Paysinger.
10. Final Points
Word from the Jets' bench was that Petty just had the wind knocked out of him, but Fitzpatrick stayed on to finish the game. On the next drive, Nick Folk added his second field goal from 36 yards out. And on the last play of the night, Fitz let fly in the end zone and Lippett grabbed his interception of the night before falling out of the end zone as the clock struck 0:00.