There were early signs of progress for Bryce Petty and then three turnovers. And on a Saturday night where he started in rhythm, Petty had to exit prematurely when he was sandwiched by two Miami defenders in the fourth quarter.
After admitting to nerves at the onset of his start last week in San Francisco, Petty displayed poise early against the Dolphins. He led a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive the first time the Jets had the ball, culminating the possession with a 40-yard TD to his favorite target — Robby Anderson. After saying that the Jets metaphorically needed to land the first punch, it was Petty who rocked the Dolphins with a right cross.
"We started out hot and it was great," Petty said. "I thought I was seeing the field great all night."
Then on the team's second possession, Petty got the Green & White right back into scoring territory. Much like the Anderson TD, Petty received excellent protection as he got the home team into the red zone with a 16-yard completion to Brandon Marshall. It appeared like the Jets would make it a two-possession contest, but that's when DE Cameron Wake introduced Petty to this hotly contested divisional rivalry.
Freed up when rookie RT Brandon Shell blocked down, Wake leveled Petty and DT Ndamukong Suh recovered for the visitors. Wake struck again early in the second stanza, nullifying a Jets' drive that had reached the Miami 27. Two plays prior to the interception, Petty had the Green & White threatening after a 27-yard completion to Quincy Enunwa.
"Not well enough to win," said head coach Todd Bowles when asked about Petty's performance. "He wasn't the only one, he had a lot of help and we didn't play well overall."
Turnover No. 3 occurred early in the third quarter. Petty had a matchup he liked and Anderson had a step on CB Tony Lippett. But instead of an explosive play for the Jets up the home sideline, the ball was underthrown and Lippett corralled it for an interception.
"I'm just a yard and a half off on the go balls," said Petty. "It's one here or there and some days you're on and some days you're off. Lippett made a good play on it, but if I put that ball a yard out there — we're probably talking about six points as opposed to a pick."
Petty nearly threw for 200 yards in the first half, totaling 192 through the air as he completed 15 of 25. RB Bilal Powell got more than half the work, tying his career high with eight receptions in just 30 minutes. But the tenor of the game changed dramatically in the third as the Dolphins went on a 21-point run. And for the second consecutive home game, Petty and the offense faced a huge deficit against a defense determined to not give up the big play.
Wake continued to be a thorn in Petty's side, both figuratively and literally. After Suh, who lined up on the right edge, got an initial shot on Petty, Wake immediately followed with a violent blow to the midsection. Petty stayed down for a couple of scary moments and then exited to the sideline. His night, which had started out so promising, was done.
"That's part of being a quarterback. You stand in there and throw it. It was just a miscommunication between me and Wes (Johnson) and that's on me," Petty said as the line was not in sync at the snap. "I just had to put the ball up and Robby made a great play on it. I didn't see the end of that ball, but it just kind of knocked the wind out of me and I couldn't go back in."
Petty had a chest X-ray after the game and the initial results were negative. He will get further tests on Sunday.
Best Images from the Week 15 Matchup at MetLife Stadium