- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets' special teams units have been a strength this season, but by the first quarter of Sunday's 30-9 loss to the Dolphins, the team had already given up two demoralizing plays -- and a ton of momentum.
First came the onside kick. The Dolphins did it right after scoring a field goal on the opening drive of the game, and recovered the kick to get a second straight possession.
Linebacker Aaron Maybin said the special teams lapses hurt. “It does, because we always expect our special teams is going to be a strength for us in a game,” Maybin said. “You never expect that anything’s gonna go wrong, but especially with our special teams. That’s kind of one of the rocks of our team, where you always expect they’re going to have a high production day. So when you do have a play like that it’s deflating a little bit.”
On the other side of the ball, Miami center Mike Pouncey said the Dolphins surged from that point on. “It set the tone,” Pouncey said. “They put us into situations on the plus side of the field instead of playing backed up. That helped us out a lot. It opened up the playbook a lot more and let guys get open.”
Vernon later blocked Nick Folk’s 35-yard field goal attempt just before halftime. It was the first kick that Folk had missed all season in 12 attempts.
“That’s just not us,” wideout Jeremy Kerley said. “One thing went wrong followed by another, it just wasn’t our day today.”
In the third quarter, Marcus Thigpen returned a kickoff 57 yards. The Dolphins took advantage of that field position and eventually scored on a four-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore to Anthony Fasano for a 27-3 lead.
With a strength like special teams turned into a weakness, Maybin said coach Rex Ryan had a pretty clear message to the team.
“The only people who are going to believe in us from here on out are in this locker room,” Maybin said.