Jets Fall, 24-17, to AFC East-champion 'Fins

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2008 Week 16 - Jets vs Miami Photos

A once promising Jets season ended on a sour note as the Green & White dropped a 24-17 decision to the Miami Dolphins today. The Jets finished out of the playoffs with a 9-7 mark while the 'Fins claimed the AFC East title with an 11-5 record, completing one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NFL history.

In the highly anticipated matchup of quarterbacks, former Jet Chad Pennington got the better of Brett Favre on the stat sheet and the scoreboard. In possibly his final game as a pro, the noticeably hurting Favre completed 50 percent of his passes with three interceptions, including one pick which was returned by Phillip Merling for a touchdown.

"Obviously it's disappointing because we expected to not be done at this point," said Favre, who will undergo an MRI on Monday. "You can point to a lot of things. I think the time we spent together — players and coaches — working, it was quite a ride and you would love for it to continue. Really the hardest part is the finality of it especially when you expect to go on. It's a tough pill to swallow, but I had a blast working with these guys."

Pennington managed well, completing 22 of 30 for 200 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions. His 20-yard scoring connection with TE Anthony Fasano erased a third-quarter 17-14 deficit and gave the Dolphins a lead they would never relinquish.

"It's always a sweet feeling to be a champion and that's what we are — we're AFC East Champions," Pennington said. "It's a great feeling, it really is."

Charlie Anderson added a blocked punt in the final stanza, setting up Dan Carpenter's 48-yard field goal to make it 24-17. The Jets never got closer as Favre's final pick, and his second to corner Andre Goodman, put an end to a late Jets charge.

Even if the Jets were victorious, they would have been on the outside looking in because both the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens grabbed wins. The Pats, despite also finishing 11-5, were eliminated from the postseason when the Dolphins' score went final.

"We hit some adversity. We had some bumps in the road and some things that happened the way we didn't want them to. Right now, we're trying to swallow that. The season's over," said NT Kris Jenkins. "We went out and we played our hearts out. Regardless what anybody says, feels or thinks, we put our best foot forward and today it just wasn't enough."

With a 6-0 lead late in the first half, New York's AFC representative appeared to be in good shape. But the Dolphins struck without warning on offense and then on defense, collecting 14 points in 13 unforgettable seconds.

After they picked up a Jets blitz, Pennington went deep to Ted Ginn, who was covered well by rookie corner Dwight Lowery. An early jump by Lowery, though, allowed the ball to fly clearly to Ginn and the Dolphins' receiver hauled in a 27-yard scoring pass.

Faced with the first deficit of the day, the Jets didn't respond well. Favre underthrew Thomas Jones on a screen and Merling intercepted for the guests. Merling brushed aside a Favre tackle attempt and plowed his way to the end zone. 

"I thought today was somewhat of a microcosm of what we've been experiencing where we had really good opportunities and couldn't capitalize on them," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "We made some mistakes and it end up costing us the game."

After an illegal contact nullified a Kerry Rhodes interception in the second stanza, the Jets collected their first and only takeaway when Bryan Thomas racked up a strip-sack of Pennington and fellow 'backer Jason Trusnik recovered for the hosts. 

Eight plays later, Laveranues Coles got free underneath and Favre hit the veteran cutting across the middle. LC did the rest, finishing off the 13-yard scoring hookup with a pretty run up the right sideline.

There was never an extra point attempt, though, due to a high snap. Kicker Jay Feely did convert from 28 yards to conclude the opening 30, making it a 14-9 Miami lead at the break.

Leon Washington's 10-yard run early in the third quarter put the Jets in front again in this back-and-forth affair. Favre followed with a successful two-point conversion to Jerricho Cotchery as the Green & White took a 17-14 advantage.

It was a post-Christmas present that set up Washington's scoot to the end zone. Dolphins long snapper John Denney sent one sailing over Brandon Fields' head, leading to just a 28-yard possession.

The unflappable Pennington answered immediately. He got the Fins moving again, getting some help from Ginn on an underthrown fleaflicker for 44. Then Pennington threw behind Fasano and the TE responded with a spin-o-rama and hauled in a 20-yard score in the end zone. That gave the Dolphins a 21-17 cushion heading into the Jets' final quarter of the season.

After beginning the year 8-3, the Jets suffered defeats in four of their final five contests. One year after going 1-15, the Dolphins will be the AFC's No. 3 seed and will host the Ravens next weekend.

"It's kind of mind-boggling. We were 8-3, we were rolling and we were at the highest of the highs," said WR Jerricho Cotchery. "All of a sudden we just collapsed and to get to this point right here is just kind of mind-boggling. Hopefully we can keep some pieces together and just try to build."

A Scoreless First

The teams played to a scoreless first quarter. Favre threw his 20th interception when he couldn't get corner Andre Goodman to bite on a pump fake to Leon Washington. But the Dolphins couldn't convert the game's first takeaway into points largely due to Ricky Williams' butterfingers. 

The Dolphins ran a clever gadget call out of their "Wildcat" formation as running back Ronnie Brown took the snap and pitched a lateral to Pennington. The former Jets quarterback looked to the center of the field and then came back to a wide-open Williams down the right sideline. But Williams dropped the ball that landed in his bread basket inside the red zone and the Jets avoided danger.

The Yardage King

Leon Washington got the 7 yards he needed to set the Jets' season record for combined yardage. The multipurpose threat, who entered the game with the most combined yards in the NFL, finished with 104 yards on the day and 2,255 for the season, topping Bruce Harper's 2,157 total in 1978. Washington broke Harper's mark on his first touch, a 9-yard catch coming on third-and-7.

Another Record for No. 4

Favre, acquired in the Aug. 6 trade with the Green Bay Packers, set the Jets' single-season completion record this year. Favre completed 20 of his 40 attempts, finishing his first Jets season with 343 completions, passing the record of 328 set by Vinny Testaverde in 2000.

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