Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins
December, 1, 2013
By James Walker | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 23-3 victory against the New York Jets on Sunday.
What it means: The Dolphins (6-6) get back to .500 with a big road victory against an AFC East rival. The victory puts Miami in solid standing to make a run for the final wild-card spot in the AFC with four games remaining. The Dolphins have a similar record with the Baltimore Ravens (6-6) but do not own the head-to-head tiebreaker. This game also puts a significant dent in New York’s slim playoff chances at 5-7. These two teams also meet again in the regular-season finale in Miami.
Stock watch: Miami receiver Brian Hartline's stock is up after his best game of the season. Hartline recorded nine receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Hartline’s best play was when he beat Jets No. 1 corner Antonio Cromartie for a 31-yard touchdown on a slant play in the third quarter. Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon also continued his solid season with 2.5 sacks.
In terms of stock down, there isn’t much the Dolphins did poorly in this big win. The early offense was questionable, especially in the red zone. Miami left a lot of points on the field due to an early missed field goal and two turnovers on downs in the first half. But at least the Dolphins were being aggressive.
QB switch for NY: Miami didn’t do much, if any, preparation for Jets backup quarterback Matt Simms. But New York head coach Rex Ryan benched the struggling Geno Smith at halftime after a poor start. The Dolphins handled the quarterback switch well and stuck to their game plan. They pressured the quarterback and forced Smith and Simms to beat Miami with their arm. Neither player had much success.
What’s next: The Dolphins continue their string of important December games when they travel to face the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7). This will be another important game in Miami’s quest to get a wild card in the AFC.