AFC East: David Bowens
The Miami Dolphins were in a must-win situation Sunday at home.
They never led the Cleveland Browns in Sun Life Stadium, but the Dolphins never were down more than a score, either. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne found Anthony Fasano for a touchdown with 10:27 left to tie it at 10.
With 1:34 left remaining, the Dolphins took over on their own 25-yard line and had a timeout. At a minimum, they appeared on their way to overtime.
Ronnie Brown ran for 1 yard.
Henne threw an incomplete pass to Fasano.
Now the Dolphins were in a spot. They had a third-and-9 situation with 65 seconds left. The Browns still had all three timeouts.
Henne threw a pass to his left toward popular third-down target Davone Bess. Browns defensive end David Bowens stuck up a paw and deflected the ball. Defensive back Mike Adams snagged the ricochet and returned it to the Dolphins' 2-yard line.
Three kneeldowns later, Phil Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal to deny the Dolphins another home victory.
What it means: Any realistic hope the Dolphins had for the postseason evaporated in defeat. They slipped back to .500 for the fifth time, failing to win consecutive games for the first time since Week 2. The Dolphins lost for the seventh time in their past eight home games.
Play of the game: On a third-and-9 play from Miami's 26-yard line and 1:05 on the clock, Chad Henne's pass was batted by former Miami defensive lineman David Bowens at the line and caromed to Cleveland safety Mike Adams, who returned it to the 2-yard line. Phil Dawson drilled the chip shot as the clock struck 0:00.
Henne inconsistent: After one of his best pro games last week, Henne perhaps had his worst. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. His 37.8 passer rating was the lowest of his career.
Dolphins negate Hillis: Browns running back Peyton Hillis managed just 57 yards and 3.2 yards a carry, while Dolphins duo Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 98 yards and 3.8 per attempt.
Long ball: Dan Carpenter set a club record with a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Only four kicks in the history of the NFL have been longer.
Wake makes noise: Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake picked up another 1.5 sacks, giving him an even dozen for the season. He can go ahead and arrange his tickets to Honolulu.
What's next: The Dolphins will play their first intra-divisional game in 10 weeks. They'll visit the New York Jets on Sunday at the Meadowlands in a spoiler role.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
New York Jets
- Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News thinks the Jets' decision to release linebackers David Bowens and Brad Kassell could mean Ray Lewis is on his way.
- Marshawn Lynch has been charged with three misdemeanors for possession of a loaded, concealed and unregistered firearm.
- Rochester Democrat & Chronicle columnist Bob Matthews writes it's too soon for the Bills to give up on Lynch.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson writes the Dolphins are looking to build up their lines through the draft again this year.
New England Patriots
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Meadowlands crowd went silent and the game paused because Miami Dolphins tight end David Martin was supine on the field after suffering an apparent neck injury against the New York Jets.
Martin was able to leave the field slowly under his own power. His return is questionable.
Martin bobbled a Chad Pennington pass before catching it for an 8-yard gain in the first quarter.
Linebacker David Bowens wrapped Martin and drive him backward and onto his rear, but as Martin was hitting the turf, defensive tackle C.J. Mosley came from behind and snapped Martin's neck, whipping his chin to his chest while hunched over.Martin suffered a similar injury in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.
With three games to go, the New York Jets already have doubled their win total from last year.
But if they don't make the playoffs, their season will be considered a failure.
|Kyle Terada/US Presswire|
|After a five-game winning streak, Eric Mangini and the Jets have dropped their last two games.|
Turnaround, schmurnaround. The Jets established an awesome standard over a torrid seven-game stretch, but two disconcerting losses have them on the cusp of panic heading into Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills at the Meadowlands.
Super Bowl proclamations have given way to renewed skepticism about Jets management and head coach Eric Mangini. Fans are expressing sentimental regret over Chad Pennington's departure.
"I don't want to say I'm hitting the panic button," said Jets linebacker and captain David Bowens, "but the leaders need to step up."
The Jets' front office spent lavishly on free agents in hopes of barging into a New York sports consciousness so occupied by the Giants and Yankees.
But an AFC East title? A Super Bowl?
Although that might have been the intention, nobody thought it actually could happen.
Then the Jets ripped off five straight wins and took six out of seven. They popped the defending AFC champion New England Patriots and undefeated Tennessee Titans -- perhaps the most significant back-to-back regular-season road wins in franchise history.
The Jets won five in a row, six of seven and hadn't lost in regulation time since September.
Expectations went from "Get outta here" to "Hey, now, wait a minute ..."
Jets fans were introduced to the bold possibilities. Their team was referenced in reverential tones by every NFL commentator on the planet. A mouth-watering Jets-Giants dream Super Bowl matchup became the hot topic.
And in the span of two weeks the Jets and their fans were swatted back to earth.
Now they can't figure out what has gone wrong.
Increased expectations bring exaggerated pressure. Pundits already are wondering who will replace Mangini and Favre if the Jets don't make the playoffs.
- Standout punt-returner Roscoe Parrish is calling for more action in the Bills' passing game, according to Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.
- The Bills will unveil a new text-messaging system Sunday that will allow fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium to report problems or emergencies via cell phone, says Maiorana.
- The Bills, who have lost two of their last three games, are looking to reassert themselves in the division when they host the Jets, winners of three of their last four, writes AP's John Wawrow.
- Running back Patrick Cobbs says teammate Ronnie Brown is"overdue" for a big game, writes the Miami Herald's Jeff Darlington. Going against Denver's 30th-ranked defense this weekend, Brown might get the chance.
- Cobbs has signed a two-year extention with the Fins, reports of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
- Coach Tony Sparano claims he knew quarterback Chad Pennington was his starter days after signing him, writes the Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson.
New England Patriots:
- Adalius Thomas, New England's richest free-agent signee in the Belichick era, is playing a much larger role in his second year with the team, says the Boston Globe's Christopher L. Gasper.
- Cornerback Ellis Hobbs returned to practice Thursday, which should provide a boost for the Pats on both defense and special teams on Sunday, reports Gasper.
- The Providence Journal's Jim Donaldson asks how long the banged-up Pats can keep up their recent winning ways?
New York Jets:
Three of the four AFC East teams have announced their captains. What's most striking is the lack of games played for their teams and the youth.
The New England Patriots are waiting until Sunday to reveal their captains.
All were voted on by their teammates.
- Offense: QB Trent Edwards, WR Lee Evans
- Defense: S Donte Whitner, DE Chris Kelsay
- Special teams: P Brian Moorman, S George Wilson
- Offense: QB Chad Pennington
- Defense: NT Jason Ferguson, DE Vonnie Holliday
- Special teams: Head coach Tony Sparano will choose a new one each week.