Desperate times call for desperate measures. And so head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets, with no offense to speak of in a difficult, initially low-scoring battle with the Dolphins, both equally desperate in regard to the AFC Wild Card picture, turned from Geno Smith to Matt Simms at quarterback to start the second half.
It didn't help. Smith's offense produced 39 yards and no points. Simms' offense didn't do much better when the game was still up for grabs, and we fell to the Dolphins, 23-3, at MetLife Stadium this afternoon.
With the defeat, the Jets lost their third straight and fourth out of five to topple to 5-7, not to mention to 1-4 at home against the Dolphins under Ryan as head coach. Miami shook off its recent road malaise to improve to 6-6 and keep its hopes alive in the battle for the sixth seed.
"I feel bad for us," Ryan said. "But I feel bad for the fans in the stands. They deserved better than that. It was an awful performance by us."
"This is not Jets football," DE Muhammad Wilkerson said. "We've got to get better. That's pretty much it."
About his new quarterback situation, he couldn't say immediately after the game who will start at home next Sunday against Oakland, but he did say it's possible veteran third QB David Garrard could be active for the Raiders game.
"We're going to evaluate," Rex said. "It's safe to say we'll put the guys in who we think give us the best chance to be successful. I can't answer that question right now, though. I need to see it, get everybody's opinion, and do what's in the best interest of our football team."
Smith was 4-for-10 passing for 29 yards while Simms went 9-for-18 for 79 yards. For the 'Fins, Ryan Tannehill went 28-for-43 for 331 yards as Miami posted a 453-177 margin in yards from scrimmage.
Missing due to injury was WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), and WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) played very little. CB Dee Milliner, who missed a tackle on a second-half touchdown, was brought to the bench for the third time this season.
On the other hand, Antonio Cromartie, despite his aching hip, contributed a takeaway, a tackle for loss, and several kickoff returns in place of Josh Cribbs, who left early with a shoulder injury. And Chris Ivory, coming off a sore ankle from Baltimore, was the star of the offense with 61 rushing yards. But it was far from enough.
"I wouldn't say non-competitive," Cromartie replied to a reporter's question about the last three games. "Every game is competitive. Some things don't go your way. You just have to put your finger on it, find out where we're at, and go from there."
The Second-Half Story
The defense suffered a breakdown on a two-play Dolphins drive to the game's first touchdown as Tannehill hit Brian Hartline on an in-cut in front of Cromartie, cut it back outside and went 31 yards for a 13-0 lead with 9:42 left in the third quarter.
Cromartie took the kickoff out to the Jets 34. Soon after, with Ivory squirting out of the pile to rip off a 32-yard run, the Jets moved to first-and-goal at the Miami 5 before stalling. Despite the protestation from the crowd, Ryan sent Nick Folk on for a 20-yard field goal, making him 25-for-26 for the season and 16--for-his-last-16 at home and trimming our deficit to 13-3.
But any momentum we had dissipated on the 'Fins' next drive en route to Tannehill's high pass to Mike Wallace, who slipped rookie CB Dee Milliner's tackle attempt and sped the rest of the way down the right sideline for a 28-yard score and a 20-3 edge.
After a third field goal by rookie Caleb Sturgis made it 23-3 with 5:59 to play, Simms tried to rally the Green & White for a late touchdown to Stephen Hill but instead threw a low-line-drive interception to CB Brent Grimes in the front of the end zone for a touchback and a final nail in today's coffin.
Point-less in the First Half
The Dolphins moved down the field on the game's opening drive as if the wind was in their sails, moving from their 8 almost deep into the red zone. But a Lamar Miller screen dash inside the 5 was wiped out by Charles Clay's offensive pass interference, and the 13 offensive plays went for naught when Sturgis' 41-yard field goal to the East end zone faded wide right.
Our defense then rose up on the next three series.
On Drive No. 2, Miami went for it on fourth down just past midfield, with Milliner breaking up Tannehill's pass for Hartline and getting an on-field pat on the back from Ryan.
Drive No. 3 went as far as the Jets 29 before Tannehill dropped back, had his arm hit by Muhammad Wilkerson as he threw, and Cromartie artfully boxed out to come down with the popped-up pass for his third INT of the season and our sixth pick in the last six games.
Drive No. 4 didn't seem as if it was going to be as productive as the Dolphins moved 51 yards to third-and-goal at the 1-foot line. But Clay was stopped for no gain on a run up the gut, then Tannehill's fade for Clay went too far, and the defense had its third first-half goal line stand of the season, matching the stops against the Falcons and Bengals.
Where was the offense in all of this? Not moving. Smith and company to that point had four series, went three-and-out on three of them and had one first down on the other. Backed up at their 1 after the big stop, the O moved 2 yards, Geno threw badly wide of David Nelson on third-down "miscommunication," and Ryan Quigley had to punt from the back of his end zone.
Finally, the visitors, on their fifth march into plus territory, came away with some points as Sturgis banged through a 34-yard field goal for the first score of the half. Then Smith tried to strike in the final minute with a longball for Greg Salas. Instead he found the underneath coverage, LB Dannell Ellerbe, who returned the pick to the Jets 44.
In short order Sturgis hit his second field goal in 39 seconds, from 43 yards, and the 'Fins went to the locker room with a 6-0 lead and a 24:12-5:48 possession advantage that was the largest against us in a first half since Denver posted a 24:18 TOP in 1973 at Shea Stadium. The Broncos prevailed that day, 40-28. The Jets attempted to prevent a similar fate over the game's last 30 minutes.