Updated, 6:12 p.m. ET
It was all out there today for the Jets to show that they were still on the road to being the contender they want to be:
The venue: Home sweet home, MetLife Stadium. The opponents: their old rivals the Dolphins, whom they defeated in overtime in Miami five weeks earlier. The storyline: A good week of practice and a physical mindset all week from the Jets. Halftime: Inspirational ceremonies to retire Dennis Byrd's No. 90 uniform. Pregame: Byrd's fiery speech to the Jets. First quarter: Miami starting QB Ryan Tannehill leaves the game with a left quad and knee injury.
None of that seemed to help. The Dolphins were ready to roll from the opening kickoff, the Jets shot themselves in the foot, at every turn and in all three phases. The result was the Jets' disappointing 30-9 defeat at the hands of the 'Fins ahead of the advancing Hurricane Sandy.
"To say I never saw this coming is an understatement," said head coach Rex Ryan after the Jets fell to 3-4 on the season and to last place in the AFC East with their third loss in four games while the Dolphins, fresh off their bye, rose to 4-3 with their third straight win. "It's hard to figure out. I've never gone into a game I didn't think I'd win. But man, I couldn't wait to get out here, and I thought the players felt the same way. That wasn't the case, obviously.
It was the Jets' largest margin of defeat to the Dolphins since falling at Miami, 30-3, in 2002. And it was the most lopsided home loss to the Dolphins in 37 seasons. In 1975 Miami came to Shea Stadium and routed those Jets, 43-0.
"You have to give Miami a lot of credit. I know they were obviously confident coming in here," Ryan said. "They played much better than we did, especially earlier in the game."
And the outcome came after what Ryan said was an outstanding week of practice. And quarterback Mark Sanchez agreed.
"I thought we had a great effort during the week, probably one of our best weeks of practice," said Sanchez, who completed 28 of 54 passes for 283 yards, one TD and one red-zone interception. "That's the most frustrating thing. We didn't get it translated to the field today. There were too many mistakes. Whatever it was, we were all just average today."
Some would argue that the special teams was less than average during an uncharacteristic 25 minutes of clock time in the first half. The Jets' teams gave up an onside kick after the Dolphins' game-opening drive to the first of three Dan Carpenter field goals, a blocked-punt-return touchdown, and a blocked Nick Folk 35-yard field goal try that at least would have put the Jets on the board going into the locker room at halftime.
"That's just not us," said WR-PR Jeremy Kerley. "One thing went wrong followed by another. It just wasn't our day today."
Trying to Dig Out in the Second Half
Instead, the Jets went in on the short end of a 20-0 score. They returned for the second half and took a small bite out of the deficit with Folk's 38-yard field goal on the first drive of the third quarter. But then backup QB Matt Moore's 4-yard pass to TE Anthony Fasano as he skipped both feel inbounds while heading toward the left side of the end zone raised the deficit back to its highest point of the day, 27-3, with 8:46 left in the third quarter.
Miami's next series ended promisingly when Yeremiah Bell recovered his second fumble of the season at the 'Fins 32 on a Reggie Bush run, with David Harris stripping the ball loose. The home team drove to the 14 but Sanchez sailed a pass for Dustin Keller that S Chris Clemons picked off at the 1 and returned to the 30. Another scoring thrust parried.
"I just missed it, really," Sanchez said of the potential TD strike to his favorite target that turned into his third RZ interception of the season. "We just want it back and it's too bad because he had his guy [beat] and I just didn't capitalize."
Finally the Jets showed signs of life, much too late to make this game really interesting, but at least they maneuvered 94 yards on 13 plays to Sanchez's 5-yard TD slant to Chaz Schilens. It was Schilens' eighth career TD catch and his first as a Jet.
"Mark saw what the coverage was and checked to that play," Schilens told Jets Replay on newyorkjets.comafter the game. "They were in Cover-Zero, an all-out blitz, and the play worked. It was designed well."
The Jets had to go for two points at that point, but Sanchez's pass to Keller was incomplete and the score stood at 27-9, Dolphins with 7:20 to play.
That left the Green & White in the impossible position of needing two touchdowns, a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie it. Then after a failed onside kick and Carpenter's third field goal, from 42 yards, made it 30-9 with 4:30 to play, they needed three TDs in 4½ minutes of clock time. That wasn't happening today.
Sanchez tried to lead one more touchdown march and got it to the Miami 19 with 1:23 left, but on fourth-and-7 he heaved one for Jeremy Kerley inside the 5 that was pried from his grasp. Incomplete.
E-special-ly Bad Start to the Game
The Jets came out on defense first and quickly got hit with two penalties — Muhammad Wilkerson jumping offside on third-and-4 and Antonio Cromartie with a personal foul for shoving Bush after a reception out of bounds — as the Dolphins moved into the Jets red zone.
The D held from there and Carpenter came on for a 33-yard field goal, making him 16-for-18 career vs. the Jets and giving the 'Fins an early 3-0 lead.
Miami then came out with an onside kick, with former Jets LB Jason Trusnik recovering Carpenter's dribbler off the tee. The Green & White were back on their heels.
But then they weren't as Ryan Tannehill was sacked back on the visitors' side of the 50 by Calvin Pace and the Dolphins punted. The rookie QB injured his left quad and knee on the play and left the game, not to return, as Moore, who led the win over the Jets at Miami in Game 16 last season, came on.
After a Sanchez sack at his 20 by S Jimmy Wilson, Robert Malone set up to punt again. But this time personal protector Tim Tebow appeared to have to make a tough blocking choice and Wilson came cruising up the middle to reject Malone's punt (his second block in five games). The ball was picked up mid-hop at the goal line by Olivier Vernon and the Dolphins had a 10-0 lead 12 minutes into this game.
Even though the precip at the leading edge of Sandy would not fall all game, when it rains it still pours. On the next kickoff, Joe McKnight returned, then stayed down on the turf for a few seconds after apparently having his sore left ankle twisted again, before he walked off under his own power. He also didn't return, to be replaced on kickoffs by Clyde Gates. More on him in a second.
The next home team error came on the fourth play of the drive as Sanchez, after a pump fake, was sacked from behind by CB Nolan Carroll, with the ball bouncing into the hands of DT Paul Soliai at the Jets 32. As the quarter ended, the visitors were driving to the 2. On the third play of the second quarter, RB Daniel Thomas danced off his left side and found the goal line.\
Two three-and-outs by the Jets set up the Dolphins for their fourth scoring thrust, a 39-yard Carpenter field goal that made it 20-0 with 6:59 left in the half.
The Jets had overcome 20-point second-quarter deficits only twice in their history — in 1978 at Denver, when they fell behind, 28-7, but roared back for a 31-28 win, and in the 2000 Monday Night Miracle, when they trailed the Dolphins, 20-0, en route to their 40-37 epic OT victory.
But that was not happening today. It was a first half and a game to forget for the Jets and their fans. But they have to remember how to win over the bye week because two road games against the tough defenses of the Seahawks and the Rams begin the second half of their schedule.
Shonn Greene finished with 77 yards on 15 carries and 29 on two catches for a 106-yard game from scrimmage. His 36-yard third-quarter dash was the longest at home in his career. ... Gates, who had four receptions in his first 19 games as a pro, had seven for a game-leading 82 yards today in his first game back after missing the previous two with a shoulder injury. ... Keller also had seven receptions, for 67 yards.
The Jets actually outgained the Dolphins from scrimmage, 363 yards to 236, after being outgained in the first half, 146-107. They also had 22 first downs to Miami's 14 and 31:13 to 28;47 in possession time. ... The Dolphins' yardage included 97 yards on 33 carries. Bush led the visitors with 59 yards on 14 carries plus a 6-yard reception.
The last time an opponent took a blocked-punt return for a touchdown vs. the Jets was Albert Lewis for Kansas City in the 1986 playoffs. Lewis blocked Dave Jennings' punt and recovered it in the end zone. ... The last opponent to block a Jets field goal try was Bell as a Dolphin, when he got his hand on Folk's 61-yard try to end the first half at Miami in 2010. ... The last time the Jets had two kicks of any kind blocked in the same game was in 1982 vs. Green Bay, when Mark Lee blocked a Pat Leahy FG try and Gary Lewis rejected a Leahy PAT try.