The Jets kept one of the NFL's top defenses off balance for close to three quarters Sunday, but they went cold in the final stanza. The Green & White saw a 14-point lead against the Dolphins disappear despite veteran QB Josh McCown accounting for four touchdowns and the opportunistic Jets following two takeaways with 14 points. But the unit managed just one first down in the fourth quarter and McCown's interception deep inside Jets' territory led to the game's final score as the Green & White dropped a 31-28 contest in Miami.
"It's a sick feeling. You come out on the road and get going like we did and build a lead like we did, to finish it like that is frustrating," McCown said. "It's a sick feeling."
Against a Dolphins defense that had yet to yield more than 20 points in any of their first five games, the Jets had 21 by halftime. They wanted to set the tone and they did just that after winning the toss and electing to receive.
With RB Bilal Powell returning to the lineup following a one-game absence, offensive coordinator John Morton got the explosive runner involved at the onset. He motioned WR Robby Anderson and then had McCown come back to Powell for a 31-yard gain on a brilliant screen design. Three plays later, the Jets were in the end zone as Morton's group took advantage of a favorable matchup with WR Jermaine Kearse singled up with rookie CB Cordrea Tankersley. McCown appeared to check into the play at the line and dropped in a perfect ball as the Jets jumped out to a 7-0 lead. It marked the second consecutive week the Green & White had scored on their opening possession.
The visitors got back into the end zone on their third possession. With all three of his running backs at his disposal, Morton devised a screen on third-and-19 and veteran Matt Forte came through with a herculean effort and got 21. Using the screen to his advantage again, Morton went to TE Eric Tomkinson for 26 to get the Jets inside the red zone. The eight play, 75-yard culminated when Robby Anderson took an inside cut on Tankersley and McCown was on the money from 18 yards out.
Locked in a 14-14 tie late in the half, Morton's unit didn't let the game's first takeaway go to waste. After throwing for 2 TDs, Morton had McCown sneak in from 1-yard out following DL Muhammad Wilkerson's interception by the goal line. In sync with Morton and QB coach Jeremy Bates, McCown hit on 10 of his first 15 for 163 yards. The Jets had six different pass catchers and Powell provided some jump in the rush attack, gaining 27 yards before halftime.
Returning to complementary football in the second half, Morton's unit cashed in with a second touchdown following a takeaway. Rookie S Marcus Maye's long return gave McCown another opportunity in plus-territory. Morton went to Powell for some sizable chunks on the ground and McCown connected with TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a pair of third-down conversions — the latter of which gave the visitors a 28-14 advantage.
"The touchdown was a great ball by Josh moving the coverage to the right," said Seferian-Jenkins of the 18-yard TD. "I posted up, he threw a great ball. But at the end of the day, when you don't win, it's tough to look at it like that."
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The Jets found no offensive rhythm when the Dolphins made their late charge. They were limited to just one first down and McCown was sacked twice in the fourth quarter, but it appeared they would have a chance to win the game with a drive in the final minute. With three timeouts and 47 seconds on the clock, McCown went up the sideline to Kearse and instead found CB Bobby McCain. That lone turnover set up K Cody Parker's game-winner from 39 yards out.
"I didn't think that there would be anyone under that one," McCown said. "It's one of those things that I rolled back to it, and I knew ... I was kind of throwing as I was turning, because it was a wide-field throw. I knew I'd have to get something on it. I slowed my arm down when I saw the guy, but it wasn't enough."