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Unhappy Returns: Jets Fall to 'Fins, 30-25


2009 Week 8 - Jets vs Miami Photos

The game — or more precisely, the hours before the game — began with a lot of trash talk on both sides. "So much chaos was going on," said cornerback Darrelle Revis.

And it ended with a Miami Dolphin or two complimenting the Jets. "One guy said, 'you all whipped our butts," defensive end Shaun Ellis recalled. "But they won the game. Frustrating."

Indeed, despite the game turning into an exciting shootout, something similar to the teams' first meeting on Monday night three games ago, the Jets' outcome was a bitter 30-25 loss to the Dolphins on Winston Hill Day at the Meadowlands.

With Ted Ginn returning two kickoffs for touchdowns sandwiched around Jets nemesis Jason Taylor's 48-yard fumble-return score, all in the span of 7:01 of the third quarter, the unhappy returns ultimately proved too much for the Jets' dominating defense and rookie QB Mark Sanchez and the offense to overcome.

And so the Jets suffered a bitter defeat to fall to 4-4 heading into their bye week, and 1-3 in the AFC East, and 0-2 to the Dolphins.

This despite a defense led by Ellis and LBs Bart Scott and David Harris that stifled the Miami Wildcat and held the visitors from the south to 104 offensive yards — the fourth-fewest yards by an opponent and the fewest yards allowed in a loss in Jets franchise history.

And despite an offense that, while sputtery in the first half, finished with 378 yards, thus outgaining the Dolphins by 274 yards — the second-largest yardage margin in a loss in franchise history.

"Sometimes, things just don't make sense," Ryan said. "Statistically, this game is not going to look close. I truly feel that our football team is good enough to beat anybody in this league. But we also can lose to anybody in this league if we spot a team three touchdowns. That's about it going forward. It's a huge loss for us."

"We've got to come out and play all phases, no letdown in any phase," said Sanchez, who finished 20-for-35 for 265 yards and second-half TD passes to Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller, "or this is what happens."

The three returns broke open a tightly played 3-3 halftime tie. Most of the burden was being shouldered by the Jets' kick coverage unit, second in the NFL in opponents' average drive start after kickoffs until Ginn roared for a 100-yard return and then a 101-yarder.

"We put our team in a terrible situation," said kicker Jay Feely, who tied his career long and the franchise long with a 55-yard second-quarter field goal and had two coverage tackles. "The defense did a good job on the field and made plays. We did the opposite, giving up plays."

Six Jets offensive plays later, rookie RB Shonn Greene was struggling for yardage at midfield when DT Paul Soliai punched the ball loose, old Jets nemesis Jason Taylor picked it up and ran uncontested for 48 yards and another TD.

The Jets kept answering but never enough to grab the lead. After Taylor's TD, Jamaal Westerman recovered Davone Bess' muffed punt and Sanchez scored on his nifty naked bootleg from a yard out.

After Ginn's second TD, the big plays were a 53-yard catch-and-run to the newly returned Jerricho Cotchery and Edwards' 19-yard second-effort TD.

After the Dolphins' only offensive success of the game resulted in a Chad Henne toss to TE Joey Haynos with 8:48 to play, Dustin Keller (eight catches, 76 yards) made a brilliant goal line catch on a low outside throw.

The Jets almost got within a field goal, but Sanchez's two-point pass to Wallace Wright for the deuce was wiped out by an illegal shift. The QB put that on himself.

"I have to let our guys get set before we go in motion," Sanchez said. "The clock was running down so I was trying to hurry and we were just trying to get set. It's a unique formation that we had and a motion, but it's on the quarterback."

Finally, after the defense pitched its sixth three-and-out series of the game, with Scott applying the Henne sack to force the punt, the Jets got close but no cigar. Sanchez, after hitting Keller with an outstanding fourth-down throw and catch to get to the 12 with 1:56 to go, ran out of miracles — he was dropped for 1 yard on a scramble, sacked on third down and could find no one open in the end zone on fourth down with 1:06 left.

And so the first half of the first season under head coach Rex Ryan comes to a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty end. The Jets' bye week comes next, with the players getting time off to heal up physically and mentally, before they return to action for Game 9 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by their rematch with the Patriots at New England.

"I want our players to get away, feel the sting of this, and come back fresh," said Ryan. "I want their minds away from football for a little bit and then to come back ready to go against Jacksonville."

Tackle Damien Woody said that's exactly his game plan and the aim of everyone else in the Jets' locker room.

"You let these games slip away, man ... this isn't baseball where you've got a whole bunch of games. We only have 16 games. You don't know which game is going to bite you in the end," said Woody. "I give credit to the Dolphins. They won the game, they swept us. So we've just got to come back after this bye week and get after it. Our goal is to win every one week by week. That's what we've got to do."

Game Notes

The last time the Jets had more than six sacks was in the middle of the 2007 season when they sacked Ben Roethlisberger seven times en route to their stunning 19-16 overtime win over the Steelers. ... Henne and the Dolphins gained 52 net passing yards, the least by a Jets opponent since 1997, when the Buccaneers gained 21 in the Jets' wind-aided 31-0 win. ... Scott had a game-high eight tackles.

Thomas Jones ran for 102 yards and the Jets' No. 1 rushing offense managed 127, while the Dolphins' No. 2 rush offense was held to 52 yards. ... In Week 5, the Dolphins gained 110 yards on 16 Wildcat plays. Today they gained 6 yards on seven WC plays. "When you smash the Wildcat," said Ellis, who led the way with 1.5 sacks, "they've got to go to something else."

Pat Leahy set the Jets' field goal distance record with a 55-yard field goal vs. Chicago in 1985. John Hall matched that at Seattle in the 1997 season opener and Feely reached for the first time as a Jet against St. Louis last season. ... Ginn is the first Jets opponent to return two kickoffs for TDs in one game and joins Buffalo's Charley Warner as the only opponent with two KOR TDs in a career. Warner had two returns for the Bills in 1965 and '66. ... This is the fifth game in Jets history that they have yielded three return TDs in a game. This is not a good formula for victory, as their 0-4-1 record in those games would indicate.

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