There's something this year to playing in home openers. The Jets, who lost their first two games to teams playing in their first home games, roared to life and shut down the Miami Dolphins in their home opener this afternoon before the Green & White faithful at MetLife Stadium.
The final score was 20-6, built on a long Josh McCown hookup with Robby Anderson, a short scoring run by Bilal Powell, two Chandler Catanzaro field goals, and a rejuvenated defense that gave up 225 yards — and a mere 30 rushing yards — with most of that yardage coming in the fourth quarter as the D tried to keep the Aqua & Coral out of the end zone.
The Jets were in position to establish some franchise history with their first home shutout of the Dolphins ever and their first shutout in any home opener. The Dolphins' pass from Jay Cutler to DeVante Parker on the last play of the game frustrated those hopes, but the Jets were still ecstatic to improve to 1-2 and get ready for their second home game next Sunday, against the Jaguars, who mauled the Ravens in London earlier today.
1. Return of ASJ
The Jets had some problems keeping Cameron Wake out of the backfield in the early going — the Dolphins LDE sacked McCown once and forced him to step up into another sack. But McCown also found some of his missing targets. His first completion was Robby Anderson's longest catch of the season, for 20 yards, and he hit TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins on back-to-back plays for ASJ's first two catches in his first game back from his two-game NFL suspension.
Still, the Jets couldn't score as Chandler Catanzaro missed his first field goal try of the season from 45 yards and the second sack took them out of another FG try.
Top Photos from the Home Opener Against the AFC East Division Rival Dolphins
2. Return of the Green Wall
With Jamal Adams and Demario Davis active all over the field, the Jets defense, which struggled in the first two games, played strong all the way. The run D allowed the Dolphins 11 yards on their first six carries through the first quarter and 30 yards on 15 carries for the game. Jay Ajayi was swarmed over for 16 yards on 11 totes.
With the pass defense sacking Jay Cutler twice and defending two passes in the first half, the visitors were held to 49 yards — the lowest halftime yardage total by an opponent since the Chiefs had a mere 4 yards in the Jets' 2011 romp.
3. Finding the Robby Range
McCown was finding his short and midrange targets all first half. And after a long Bilal Powell run was wiped out by a Wes Johnson hold (which Johnson pointedly disputed with ref Terry McAulay to no avail) and the two-minute warning, the QB, standing in against the blitz, and Robby Anderson clicked on the long ball. McCown hit Anderson in full stride past CB Alterraun Verner on the skinny post and Robby took it the rest of the way for a 69-yard score and a 10-0 Jets lead.
4. Throw It to LT!
OC John Morton and the offense were confident enough in the way things were going to break out a gadget play in the third quarter. Second-year DL Lawrence Thomas, uniform No. 97, was lining up at fullback for a number of plays. But on third-and-1 from the Miami 28, Thomas was in the pattern, McCown tossed the rock to him, and the 6'3", 286-pounder took it 15 yards and nearly broke it for the score. But he helped position the Jets for Bilal Powell's 1-yard sweep for the actual TD and a 17-0 lead.
5. A Little Help from Their Friends
The Jets even benefited from some fourth-down gaffes by their AFC East brethren. On fourth down in their territory, the Dolphins tried a fake field goal, but punter Matt Haack's long throw was intercepted by Terrence Brooks. Had Brooks batted it down, the Jets would have started from Miami's 28, but the 'Fins 49 was OK, too.
Then later on that drive, the Jets faced fourth-and-1 from that 28-yard line and brought out the FG team. But DE William Hayes was flagged for illegal formation — the visitors' fifth presnap penalty of the day — enabling the Green & White to drive further before Catman converted from 22 yards out.
6. QB Comparison
McCown finished his day 18-for-23 for 249 yards, the TD pass to Anderson, and a 126.3 passer rating. Cutler, who came out of retirement last month after Ryan Tannehill's injury, looked like someone who had been away for a little while, completing 26 of 44 for 220 yards, the late TD, an interception by Brooks — his second on the day — three sacks and a 70.3 rating.