On a glorious day in the history of the Jets franchise, what the Green & White needed to crown the day was a glorious game to match. And the Jets got it with a resounding 38-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins this afternoon.
With Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell being inducted into the team's Ring of Honor as 75 Jets alumni, including members of the Super Bowl III team, watched among the MetLife fans in attendance, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw four touchdown passes, the defense delivered a historic game of its own, and the Jets improved to 6-5 and kept their hats in the AFC Wild Card ring.
"For the most part, I thought we played good football today," head coach Todd Bowles said. "We're a tough-minded team. We're going to show up and fight. We just have to clean up the little things. I thought we played better situation and complementary football."
The three-game home losing streak to the Dolphins and QB Ryan Tannehill was also history as the Jets dropped their division foes to 4-7. Tannehill threw the ball a lot late, but the Dolphins didn't run as the Jets allowed a franchise-record 12 rushing yards on nine carries.
Here are nine observations on the Jets' rout, their largest since the 26-point flattening of the Colts at home in 2012:
1. Gambling Loss Averted
Right off the bat, Bowles gambled, going for it on fourth-and-a-foot from the Jets 45. A Dolphins posse met Chris Ivory for a yard loss. The Jets D, No. 3 in the NFL in 3-and-outs, atoned for the O's shortcoming with a 1-2-3-punt punctuated by a crushing third-down hit knocking WR Rishard Matthews out of the game by Calvin Pryor, one of a number of sharp plays by the second-year safety. "People are saying that," Pryor said of setting the tone with his early hit. "I would hope so. I think it's trying to bring that energy to our defense and just be a leader out there."
2. Marcus Magic
Marcus Williams got the start for Darrelle Revis and it didn't take long for No. 20 to move up the charts. On third down, Williams jumped on a Tannehill pass for Kenny Stills at the Jets 7 and returned it out of danger to the 28. Then the offense began its first TD drive of the game to Fitzpatrick's third-down strike to Brandon Marshall.
So doing the math: Williams' fifth interception extended his team lead and his sixth takeaway tied Revis for the team lead. And the touchdown gave the Jets 69 points after takeaways this season, as much as in their previous 39 games dating to the 2012 season.
3. No Conversion Zone
The Green & White D was devastating in allowing 81 first-half yards to the visitors from the south. A Mo Wilkerson second-down sack and a Buster Skrine third-down pass breakup gave the defense its third 3-and-out in its first four series. Then Darrin Walls' PD of a pass for RB Damien Williams made Miami 0-for-6 on third down. The third-down streak against the Dolphins this season reached 0-for-20 over seven quarters before the visitors finally converted.
4. Devin Strikes
Just like a struggling first 10 games of a career doesn't make someone a bust, that someone's first touchdown in Game 11 doesn't make him a sure thing. But rookie Devin Smith got off the schneid with his first pro TD on a 16-yard slant strike from Fitzpatrick with 8 seconds left in the first half. Fitz called it "a trust throw" and Smith said, "I'm just glad I could make a play, and it was a step closer to winning the game."
The 92-yard drive was the Jets' longest of the season. The 14-0 lead was the Jets' largest halftime margin in any game vs. Miami since 2001 and the largest at home since '93. And it was the first halftime shutout of any opponent since 2010.
5. Kerley Uncorks One
It's been a series of fits and starts for Jeremy Kerley on punt returns, but today he unfurled his longest return, a 58-yarder, since his 68-yard punt-return TD top open the 2012 season against Buffalo. Kerley's jaunt down the left sideline was stopped at the Dolphins 25 but the Jets offense was started on its way to TD No. 3.
6. Clear the Deck
Fitzpatrick was feeling it as the game wore on. After Kerley's return gave the Jets offense a short 25-yard field, Fitz made it even shorter with his first-down keeper for 10 yards to the Miami 4. Then after missing Eric Decker on a second-down slant in the end zone, he found him on third down for the 2-yard score and a 21-0 lead — the Jets' largest lead in their last 16 games against Miami and in their last 11 home games vs. the 'Fins.
For Decker it was his eight TD catch of the season, with seven of them coming in the red zone for the NFL's No. 1 red zone offense. And Deck and Marshall each caught TDs in the same game for the sixth time.
7. Back to Brandon
The Dolphins finally struck with Tannehill completions to Jarvis Landry of 40 yards to the Jets 5 and then a TD to trim the lead to 21-7. Then the Green & White let it back out to 21 points when Fitzpatrick assembled the offense's third 70-yards-plus march en route to his second TD strike to Marshall, a fade over Grimes.
It was Marshall's first two-TD game as a Jet and highlighted his nine-catch, 131-yard game. And Fitzpatrick's fourth TD pass was his most since last year's six-TD game for Houston vs. Tennessee and the most by a Jet since
8. Ivory Time
Chris Ivory, who rambled for a career-high 166 yards in the 27-13 road win at London, was being checked closely by the Dolphins defenders in this one. But Ivory was not going to be denied for the entire game. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, He took a handoff, was hit by three 'Fins at the line, broke free, shook off a fourth tackle attempt, and strode right unimpeded from there for a dazzling 31-yard touchdown run and a 35-7 lead that was the Jets' largest in any game since the 2012 opener against the Bills.
That play propelled Ivory to 87 rushing yards and 102 from scrimmage for the day.
9. Late Danger Averted
With everything going the Green & White way, it was almost certain some adversity should intrude. And it did when the Dolphins moved 80 yards on 14 plays to a short TD from Tannehill to Greg Jennings, then Landry snapped up the ensuing onside kick. But disaster disappeared on the next play when Sheldon Richardson ripped into the backfield and strip-sacked the Miami signalcaller, with rookie LB Lorenzo Mauldin pouncing on the fumble at the Miami 35, setting up Randy Bullock's 41-yard field goal for a 38-14 lead.
"We didn't finish the way we wanted to," Bowles said, "but we played good football. I'm proud of them."