The Miami Dolphins came to the Big Apple confident that their sturdy defense would be able to stuff the Jets offensive attack and quarterback Joey Harrington would be able to spark the struggling Miami offense in his second start of the season.
Laveranues Coles and Victor Hobson had something else in mind.
The Jets defense – led by Hobson's interception and fumble recovery – limited Harrington to just one touchdown and two interceptions. On the other side of the ball, Coles and company broke through the blitz-crazed Miami defense to post a twenty spot on the scoreboard.
Coles, a seventh-year wide receiver from Florida State, continued his astronomical success against the Dolphins with five catches for a team-high 106 yards and two touchdowns. Coles lit up the scoreboard first with 3:33 left in the third quarter. The 58-yard touchdown reception proved to be a career long score and gave his club a 13-3 lead.
"He did a great job on the deep ball, just sticking the guy and the guy bit on the slant," quarterback Chad Pennington said of Coles' pattern. "He was wide open on that one."
Hobson squashed a Miami first quarter drive with his first pick of the season. Harrington let a pass sail out of control due after a swarming pass rush by defensive end Bryan Thomas. Hobson, a fourth-year linebacker, stepped in front of tight end Randy McMichael at the Jets' 23 yard-line to spoil a Miami scoring opportunity.
But Hobson wasn't finished with his takeaways. The Michigan alum struck again late in the third quarter, jumping on a loose ball that defensive lineman Rashad Moore poked loose from running back Sammy Morris' hands. The turnover set the stage for the red-hot Coles to break out with a brilliant encore performance.
"He was outstanding again," Mangini said of Coles. "You see his toughness. You see his ability to make plays whether it's short, whether it's deep. Whenever he is called upon, he responds."
Coles and Pennington struck again just six plays following Hobson's recovery for their second tally of the night. The 22-yard scoring connection put the Jets up 20-3 with 13:23 left in the final period. That touchdown not only proved to be the eventual game-winning score for the 3-3 Jets, but it also gave Coles his fifth touchdown in his past four contests against the Dolphins.
"The guy turned his back. I just felt like, 'Hey, put the ball in the air for 87 and he'll make something happen,'" Pennington said.
"He trusts me a lot," Coles said of Pennington. "Any time you have a relationship with a quarterback – especially the relationship I have with Chad – it makes things that much better. He is going to put it out there and trust that I am going to make the play or nobody is going to make the play. That's the type of relationship we have with each other.
"I am just thankful he gave me that chance. Every time I step out there, he knows I'm there for him whenever he needs me or whatever he needs me to do."