Four of Five
While the loss last week to the winless Bengals stung, the Jets rebounded with a gritty 22-21 win over the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium Sunday. Sam Ficken drilled a 44-yard field goal as time expired after the Jets took advantage of a pass interference penalty called on the 'Fins after a replay review. Instead of a fourth-and-18 from the Miami 46, the Jets got a second life when replay officials determined that cornerback Nik Needham interfered with wideout Vyncint Smith.
"It was clear and obvious that the receiver did get significantly prior to the ball getting there," said NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron.
The final possession began with 93 seconds on the clock and the Jets trailing by 2 points. Darnold helped the offense initially get in scoring position when he connected on a short pass to Smith and he did most of the work up the home sideline, sprinting for a career-long 37-yard catch-and-run. The Jets were able to overcome a 8-yard loss courtesy of a sack of QB Sam Darnold and followed the DPI with a Ty Montgomery 12-yard reception before Ficken nailed the kick.
"Right now, it's just getting that feeling back," Coach Adam Gase said. "Last week wasn't a fun week for any of us. Guys were disappointed that happened. They did a good job of putting in a good week of work."
In avenging their Week 9 loss to the (then) winless Dolphins, the Green & White captured their fourth win in five games and improved to 5-8. It was also the team's third consecutive triumph at MetLife Stadium, matching their best run at since 2015. No stranger to adversity, the Jets found a way to win without one of the NFL's best defenders in S Jamal Adams (ankle) and RB Le'Veon Bell (illness), the team leader in yards on offense.
"Our guys — like they did the whole game — were resilient," said Darnold. "We kept pushing and I found Ty for the check-down and Sam obviously did a great job kicking the ball."
Robby and Red Zone
Much like last year, Robby Anderson is streaking in December. Anderson had 3 catches in the first half covering 73 yards, and his 26-yard score gave the Jets their first lead, 6-3. Anderson's third-down conversion at the end of the first quarter— an 8-yard grab on third-and-3 — kept the drive alive. Anderson also factored into the Jets' second TD drive, hauling in a 39-yard pass from Darnold up the home sideline after he raced by a 'Fins defensive back. The fourth-year wideout had 7 receptions and more than 100 yards receiving (116) for a second consecutive outing.
"He's been super aggressive, not waiting for it and going to get it," Gase said of Anderson.
Without Jamal Adams and shuffling pieces in the secondary, the Jets bent but never broke. Miami QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had Miami inside the red zone three times in the first half, but each time the Dolphins were forced to settle for a Jason Sanders field goal. Fitzpatrick continued to move the ball, but the Jets stiffened inside the 20 throughout the second half and the visitors finished 0 for 6. And after Sanders' fourth field goal, Gregg Williams' unit bailed out Darnold. Not only did it keep the 'Fins out of the end zone after a Steven Parker interception gave them the ball at the plus-23, but Sanders missed right on a 34-yard field-goal attempt.
"In this league, you need 7 to win," said safety Marcus Maye, who finished with 4 tackles. "We just did a good job every time they got down there. We just looked everybody in the eyes and told everyone to bow up. That's what we did each possession."
Fitzpatrick finished with 310 yards including 65 on the ground, but he never was able to get his club into the end zone.
See Best Images from the Matchup Against the Dolphins
Fill-Ins Stand Up
Veterans Bilal Powell and Nate Hairston played significant roles on Sunday and responded with quality efforts.
Powell, 31, made his first start of the year in place of Bell, who missed the contest with the flu. Powell had 7 carries in the opening quarter for 41 yards. His 74 yards were a season best for a Jets running back, eclipsing Bell's 70 against the Pats.
While Hairston didn't start in an injury-depleted backfield, he came away with the game's first takeaway. Fitzpatrick looked like he had a completion to Allen Hurns, but Hairston ripped the ball out of the receiver's hands. The change of possession set up Ficken's 37-yard field goal. In addition to his second career interception, Hairston was credited with 2 PDs and 1 QB hit. Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins had 2 sacks for the Jets and ILB James Burgess pitched in with 13 tackles, 1 PD and 1 FF.
"It was amazing," Hairston said. "We were down so many guys and we came out and played a good game. This is the NFL and everyone knows it's next-man up. Everybody in the building is good, we're all in the NFL. You prepare and when you get a chance, you go out and play good football."