Breece Hall, a rookie hero in this week's NFL spotlight, had no doubt what contributed to the Jets' energizing, numbers-rich win over the Dolphins.
"The defense, man, they did their thing," the Jets' rookie running back said. "We gave our defense great looks on scout team, then we all came out and played complementary football."
The Timely Offense
No better example of the 40-17 triumph displayed the complementary nature of the Jets' conquest than taking control in the fourth quarter with Michael Carter and Hall touchdown runs. The two TDs were scored a scant 14 seconds of clock time apart. If that sounds like a wicked short amount of time to score twice, well, it is. That ties the franchise record for least amount of clock time to score two touchdowns.
The record was set in 2019 at MetLife in the third quarter of their win over the then-Oakland Raiders. Sam Darnold hit Robby Anderson with a 1-yard TD pass and 14 ticks later Brian Poole returned an interception of Derek Carr 15 yards for the final score in the 34-3 triumph.
If we wanted to limit the record search further, then we can report that the Carter-Hall one-two punch vs. Miami shattered the previous mark of shortest amount of clock time for the Jets to score two offensive TDs. That was 28 seconds set in 2001 in the come-from-behind 21-17 home win over the Dolphins, when Vinny Testaverde found Laveranues Coles for the first score and Curtis Martin ran for the second, sandwiched around RB Lamar Smith's fumble, forced by Shaun Ellis and recovered by Marvin Jones. Legendary Green & White names all.
The Larcenous Defense
Something similar happened Sunday vs. the 'Fins, bringing us to the defensive contribution to this complementary tale. Hall scored so quickly because Carl Lawson ripped the ball out of QB Skylar Thompson's grasp, with Quinnen Williams scooping the ball up and barging to the 'Fins 5.
The inside-the-numbers angles here concern the strip sack. It was Lawson's first full sack as a Jet and one of his monster seven QB hits on the day, which unofficially is the most by a Jets defender in a game since 2000, when QBHs started to be tracked.
It was also the Jets' first strip sack since C.J. Mosley separated rookie Trevor Lawrence from the ball in the win over the Jaguars late last season. And it was the first time the Jets scored a touchdown off a strip since 2020 vs. Cleveland, when Frankie Luvu performed a pigskinectomy on Baker Mayfield, Foley Fatukasi recovered, and Darnold connected with Chris Herndon for the TD.
The Field Position Specialists
Jets special teams contributed only a little to the 14 points in 14 seconds with Greg Zuerlein's kickoff touchback. But on the day the specialists got the job done. Zuerlein was 7-for-7 on KO touchbacks, only the second Jets kicker since 1972 to have a perfect TB game. Jason Myers was 9-for-9 at Detroit in the 2018 opener.
P Braden Mann extended his streak to 11 games without a touchback, tied for the second-longest streak among active NFL punters, while averaging 46.8 net yards/punt, which was more than his 48.3 gross yards/punt because Brandin Echols and Justin Hardee tackled Tyreek Hill for a 2-yard loss on his lone return. Echols also snagged Mann's hard hopper at the 3, giving Mann his first inside-the-5 punt of the season.
Stir in a Braxton Berrios kickoff return of 42 yards, his long for the season, coming on the Miami free kick after the Jets' early safety, and it's easy to see how the Jets had a 13.5-yard edge on the Dolphins in average drive starts. And field position is as big a factor in winning games as is complementary football — in fact, it's a measure of the effectiveness of a team's complementary play.
And since 1990, when the Jets have an average drive start 12-plus yards better than their opponents, their record is 51-4. Including the win over the 'Fins.
"All three phases did such a good job," HC Robert Saleh said. "Hopefully, it's the first of many."