The Jets tried to pull out the stops on Sunday against the Dolphins, but Miami broke a late tie on an 11-yard scoring pass from Tua Tagovailoa to DeVante Parker with 3:37 remaining and the 'Fins held on for a 31-24 victory at Hard Rock Stadium.
WR-KR Braxton Berrios got the Jets going on a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on a play that appeared designed to be an option pass. Then in the second quarter, the Jets converted a third-and-15 courtesy of a Zach Wilson pass to Jamison Crowder, which was followed by an across-the-field lateral to Berrios that resulted in a 22-yard gain. In need of a momentum turning play late, CB Brandin Echols came up with his first career INT and took Tagovailoa's short pass intended for TE Hunter Long back for 20 yards for a game-tying pick-six in the fourth quarter.
And while the Jets had a lead for 22:02 in the first two quarters after owning a lead for only 27:12 in the first 13 games combined, the Dolphins were the better team in the second half, wearing down the Green & White defense with 185 yards on the ground while sacking Wilson six times in the game. The Jets (3-11) leave Miami still seeking that first division win this season while the 'Fins moved to .500 with a sixth consecutive victory.
Wilson Finds Early Groove
Wilson, who completed 45% of his passes during last week's loss to the Saints, was sharp at the onset in South Florida. He completed his first 6 passes for 66 yards, displaying poise in the pocket and delivering accurate passes on time. He led the Jets to points on three of their first four possessions and the offense immediately answered Miami's first TD with a TD drive of its own.
Early in the second quarter, Wilson made like Houdini with a daring escape as he eluded a couple of pass rushers on a trick play and connected to TE Ryan Griffin for a 23-yard gain. He was precise on his details like pre-snap recognition of a blitz before a second-down completion to Crowder. Then Wilson got his troops to the line on third-and-1 and called for the ball, forcing the Dolphins into a too-many-men-on-the-field infraction that resulted in a first down.
"We were being pretty effective with our runs, which set up some big pass plays," C Connor McGovern said. "When you can go out and run wide zone like that, you can have a pretty good day. We were able to do that and that's how this offense is built. Run the ball and take big shots off of it."
The Jets' 17-10 halftime advantage was their first lead of the season after two quarters, having trailed in 12 games, and they were tied vs. Miami at MetLife Stadium four games ago. And while Wilson had an incredible 6-yard scramble in the third stanza, the 'Fins were able to seize control in the second half, which included a third quarter in which they outgained the Jets 125 to 7. Wilson finished 13 of 23 for 170 yards behind a line that missed veteran LT George Fant (knee), who was replaced by Conor McDermott. Jerome Baker led Miami's sack attack with two QB takedowns and Wilson was hit eight times.
"Lack of rhythm," HC Robert Saleh said of the offense's second-half struggles. "We had a chance to really do damage there. We had the ball to end the first half, exactly the way we draw it up, see if we can score some points, see if we can get a lap opportunity. We missed out on both of those. Defensively, we couldn't hold up, gave up 14 straight, but the resilience of the defense stepped back up and got a couple of turnovers. As far as the offense is concerned with Zach, there is a rhythm thing. When things were going well in the first half, they're going to change your pitcher on you. They have to and he's got to be able to adjust in-game also."
Wilson added: "I think it's just part of the game, you have to give credit to the defense, they did a good job mixing some things up. We just have to win. The game is full of 1-on-1s all the way around. I need to give the guys some better balls to be able to win and we just have to put some drives together."
Davis Double Followed by Scare
The Jets had active hands against Tagovailoa, recording 4 PDs in the first half. Second-year safety Ashtyn Davis's first-quarter theft set up the Jets inside plus-territory, leading to a 27-yard field goal from Eddy Piñeiro as the visitors took a 10-0 lead. Then there was a sequence in the second quarter where Echols played catch-up and got a PD on a Tagovailoa long toss to Albert Wilson. That was followed by Bryce Hall's blanket coverage on Parker that led to a batted ball. Davis, who has three takeaways this season and two interceptions of Tagovailoa, had visions of touchdowns in his head because he couldn't corral the batted ball that landed in his chest.
Davis' safety partner, Elijah Riley, was forced to leave the game on a stretcher in the third quarter. The Port Jefferson, Long Island native, who started his first career game vs. Miami on Nov. 21, collided with DE Kyle Phillips and was looked at by medical personnel for minutes before being carted off the field. Riley was ruled out with a neck injury and replaced in the lineup by Sharrod Neasman.
Both Echols and Hall and 3 PDs, but the latter was beat to the inside by Parker on the game-winning score.
"He's a really good player," Hall said of Parker, who led the Dolphins with 68 yards. "He's physical, he's big, he has good hands and one of his super powers is catching it in contested windows. Just knowing that, I'm lengthy myself, so I felt like it was a good matchup. He got his fair share and I did my fair share of getting at him as well. It's just two competitors competing."
Echols added of his pick six: "It was good team communication across the board. I want to give credit to Michael Carter II. He called out a play and I trusted it, so he led me to get my first interception. ... It felt good, but I also knew we had more work to go out and do. Even though I got the interception, my focus was to get back on the field and try and make another play."
Buoyed by the returns of Tevin Coleman (8-50) and Michael Carter (8-18) in the offensive backfield, the Jets did find some success on the ground and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. The Green & White's two scoring runs came courtesy of Berrios, his 2-yard TD was the first rushing score of his career, and Wilson. The rookie signal-caller's 1-yarder was his third on the ground in four games. But the 'Fins were even more effective rushing the ball as Duke Johnson, a practice-squad call-up, had a pair of TDs and totaled 107 yards. Miami rushed 40 times in all for 185 yards as Tagovailoa was forced into the two turnovers.
"To start off in the beginning of the game, I thought we were really on our Ps and Qs as far as the run game, as far as their scheme and what they want to do with the game," LB C.J. Mosley said. "As the game continues, they started to move the ball and execute better than we did. At the end of the day, that's what it came down to. Missed tackles, I know I had a few in there. Whether it's scheme or making sure we're in the right spots, knowing where we need to be in our defenses with the types of runs we're getting, that's all going to take time. It's definitely frustrating coming off the field.
"Right now the run game is what's getting us, so we just have to keep trying to figure it out. Just because it keeps happening, it doesn't mean we can't stop it and we'll keep trying to get better at it."
See Best Images from the Game in Miami
The Jets inactives were LT George Fant, DE Shaq Lawson, RB TY Johnson, RB La'Mical Perine, DE Tim Ward and CB Isaiah Dunn. … The team's first 10 points came courtesy of Florida ties with Braxton Berrios' 2-yard score and Eddy Piñeiro's field goal. Berrios attended the University of Miami and Piñeiro is a University of Florida alum. Piñeiro told reporters Friday about 150 family members would be in attendance at Sunday's game. … TE Trevon Wesco had his third reception of the season and set the Green & White up in goal-to-go territory on their first possession. … WR Denzel Mims exited the game in the second quarter with cramps and returned. … TE Ryan Griffin, who is still the only Jets player to have a catch in every game this season, was on the receiving end of a broken play that resulted in a 23-yard gain. … DT Quinnen Williams exited the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. … LB C.J. Mosley led the defense with 14 tackles and LB Quincy Williams pitched in with 11. … Rookie LG Alijah Vera-Tucker jogged off the field in the fourth quarter and Dan Feeney came in to replace him.