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Sunday, January 1, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 19, Jets 17

By James Walker


MIAMI -- Here are some thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 19-17 victory over the New York Jets:

What it means: The Dolphins (6-10) split the season series with the Jets (8-8) and ended New York's slim playoff hopes. Miami was the NFL's most dangerous spoiler in the second half of the season and finished 6-3 in its last nine games. That run offers hope for the Dolphins in the future. The Jets, meanwhile, ended their year on a three-game losing streak and missed the playoffs for the first time under head coach Rex Ryan. Both teams have a lot of offseason questions to face.

Clock eater: The biggest drive of the game started midway through the third quarter. The Dolphins went on a season-long 21-play, 94-yard touchdown drive that ate up 12 minutes and 29 seconds. It was the longest scoring drive in Dolphins history and gave Miami a 13-10 lead. It also shortened the game and gave Miami's defense plenty of rest to close out the game.

Quarterback woes: Neither Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez nor Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore did much to prove they are the long-term solutions for their respective teams. Both combined for five interceptions -- Sanchez threw three picks and Moore threw two. Miami will be searching for Moore's replacement this offseason via the draft or free agency. At the very least, the Dolphins should draft a rookie to challenge and groom behind Moore. Sanchez's situation is more complex. He is a first-round pick who's won big games but also hasn't improved much over his three-year career. There have been rumors of the Jets trading for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, but that’s simply speculation at this stage. Indianapolis' public stance is that Manning will not be on the market.

Starks gets two: Miami's defense has been getting big plays from many players this season. But the Dolphins got some unexpected plays from Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks. He recorded a sack and two surprise interceptions.

Farewell to Taylor: Longtime Miami defensive end Jason Taylor wrapped up his 15-year career Sunday. Taylor recorded one tackle in his final game and his quarterback pressure helped set up one of Starks' two interceptions. Taylor is sixth all-time with 139.5 career sacks. He will be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame in five years.

What’s next: A disappointing season ends for both teams. For the Dolphins, they begin a busy offseason that will include a coaching search and an attempt to land a long-term solution at quarterback. For the Jets, they have to find answers to why a talented roster that nearly everyone thought would make the playoffs crashed so badly and finished at .500.