The Jets (2-8) dropped a 24-17 decision to the Dolphins (4-7) on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco threw for 291 yards and 2 TDs in his first start this season, WR Elijah Moore had a scintillating afternoon with 141 receiving yards and 1 TD and S Ashtyn Davis recorded his first career INT, but the home club never held a lead and fell to 0-4 in the AFC East.
There were a number of lineup changes for the Jets as Laurent Dunervay-Tardif started at RG while Quincy Williams, Elijah Riley and Isaiah Dunn got the call at LB, S and CB. Head coach Robert Saleh's club came back to tie the game at 7 and then at 14, but the 'Fins went on a 10-point run and secured the road victory as Tua Tagovailoa hit on 82% of his passes for 273 yards with 2 TDs and Myles Gaskin added 89 yards on the ground. The Jets let opportunities slip out of their grasp, finishing 1-of-4 in the red zone and they also had a pair of missed field goals from Matt Ammendola (54 and 40 yards).
Rookie QB Zach Wilson, who went through an extensive workout during pregame warm-ups, missed his fourth consecutive game after suffering a PCL sprain against the Patriots on Oct. 24.
Moore Ascends to Another Level
On a day when rookie RB Michael Carter exited with an ankle injury, the Jets got a huge game out of fellow first-year player in Moore. Targeted 11 times from Flacco, Moore had 8 receptions for 141 yards, both career highs, and a touchdown. Down 14-7 facing third-and-8, he toasted veteran CB Byron Jones as the Dolphins paid dearly on a blitz with Flacco spotting the electric receiver with no safety in sight. The 62-yard catch-and-run was the Jets' longest play of the season and tied the game at 14.
"Elijah has been getting better every week," Saleh said. "Really pumped for him. He's starting to get into a rhythm. He had the explosive play, which we all know he's capable of. He's stacking up days and he's only going to get better. He's going to be a special kid."
Turning It Over
After allowing an 83-yard TD drive to start the game, the Jets defense came up with its third INT of the season on Miami's ensuing possession. John Franklin-Myers made Tagovailoa uncomfortable with a pressure and the second-year QB threw an errant toss that Davis, a fellow second-year player, came up with as he dove to the ground. That was Davis' first-career takeaway.
"I was just skating in the post," he said. "It was an overthrown ball and we have to make the most the most any time there's a tip or overthrow."
While the Jets were able to turn the theft into a touchdown, the Dolphins took points off the board in the second quarter. After the Jets had advanced to the Miami 5-yard line, Flacco was rocked on a blindside blitz by S Brandon Jones and the Dolphins ultimately came up with possession when S Jevon Holland recovered a Christian Wilkins fumble at the 23.
"We broke the huddle fast, tried to get up on the line and snap," Flacco said of the play. "We snapped it right away, we tried to get a pick-flat. He ended up being open there, but the guy jumped up on the line, so I kind of double clutched it and [Jones] came free."
When asked what the offense's next steps are, Flacco said: "I think it's a cliché thing to talk about how much you beat yourself week in and week out, but after being in there this week and seeing the few mistakes that we've made, it's getting over the hump with that sort of stuff, so we can get out of our own way and worry about the opponent. I think the amount of mistakes that happen in the game with us right now is really making it hard to get things done and crawl out of a little hole. Today, we crossed midfield and as soon as we get over there, a couple things bite us in the butt. I think if we can do that, if we can really focus in on making less mistakes, the game will come to us a little more."
Although TE Mike Gesicki had a 26-yard reception for the Dolphins on their opening scoring drive that culminated on Jaylen Waddle's 1-yard TD run, the Jets countered with a number of big plays of their own.
Carter, receiving great blocks from LG Alijah Vera-Tucker and LT George Fant, exploded through a crease for a career-long 39-yard rush that set up Flacco's game-tying TD to Jamison Crowder on fourth-and-goal. TE Ryan Griffin also slipped across the line unimpeded for a 29-yard catch-and-run early in the second quarter. And FB Nick Bawden, a practice squad call-up on Saturday, also had a 20-yard reception midway through the second stanza. Flacco, who made his first start since Week 11 of the 2020 season, completed passes to eight players.
"When you get back out there and you start running some plays, you get right back into your comfort zone," Flacco said. "I feel like as an offense, myself included, we did some good things, but we made too many mistakes to win the football game."
It was an evenly played first half that ended with a 7-7 tie with both clubs missing field goals in the waning minutes.
But the 'Fins gained the lead in the third quarter as Tagovailoa stepped up in the pocket and connected on a career-long 65-yard scoring pass to Mack Hollins. After Moore's equalizer, the 'Fins had a crushing answer with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard Gaskin TD reception. The Jets had some critical penalties down the stretch including two third-down flags, a roughing the passer infraction on Franklin-Myers and a holding call on rookie DB Jason Pinnock.
"The Pinnock one, he's being aggressive with a big tight end, so I'll never fault aggressive penalties," Saleh said of the late penalties. "JFM, unacceptable."
Saleh later added: "I've said it up here a million times. You have to learn how not to lose first. Then once you learn how not to lose, you have to figure out how to win and once you figure out how to win, then you have to figure out how to close games. Today was clearly one of those learning moment of how not to lose."
The Jets inactives were QB Zach Wilson, OL Isaiah Williams, S Jarrod Wilson, RB La'Mical Perine, DL Tim Ward, DT Jonathan Marshall, CB Rachad Wildgoose. … S Elijah Riley made 6 tackles in his first career start and CB Isaiah Dunn had 7 tackles in his first career start. LB Quincy Williams led the Jets with 15 tackles and recorded 2 TFL. … DE Kyle Phillips, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list earlier this week, made his season debut and had 4 tackles and 1 TFL. … RT Morgan Moses exited the game with an ankle injury but returned … After missing two field goals, K Matt Ammendola hit from 35 yards in final seconds to make it a one-score game, 24-17 … LB C.J. Mosley was evaluated for a head injury in the fourth quarter with and Del'Shawn Phillips took his place in the lineup.