Monday, September 27, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Jets 31, Dolphins 23
By Rich Cimini
What it means: Well look who's in first place. After a week of swirling controversy, the New York Jets got down to the business of football and outlasted the Miami Dolphins 31-23 at Sun Life Stadium. The Jets improved to 2-1, the Dolphins dropped to 2-1. Playing with the Braylon Edwards distraction, and without star CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), the Jets showed plenty of grit. The defense was leaking all night, but here's what it came down to: Mark Sanchez saved their butts.
What's next: The Jets remain on the road, facing the Buffalo Bills (0-3). The Jets could be without Revis (hamstring) for the second straight week, but LB Calvin Pace (foot) could return to the lineup. The Jets will face QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who replaced Trent Edwards and provided a spark to the Bills' moribund offense. The Bills' top weapon is rookie RB C.J. Spiller, who scored on a TD reception and a 95-yard kickoff return.
• The Jets announced before kickoff that Edwards would be benched for one quarter because of his drunken-driving arrest. It didn't last one play longer than that. On the first play of the second quarter, Edwards was back in the game. So much for making him sweat. At the outset, he was a non-factor, as most of the passing attack ran through TE Dustin Keller. Edwards didn't get a chance until the third quarter, when he took a 5-yard out, spun past a slipping Jason Allen and took it to the house for a 67-yard touchdown to give the Jets a 21-17 lead. At least he didn't get called for a taunting penalty; he's making progress. But, later, he did have a costly tripping penalty.
• It was another outstanding performance by Sanchez, who threw three touchdowns for the second straight week and ran his streak to 70 attempts without an interception -- the longest streak of his career. Sanchez showed great field presence, making good decisions and not forcing too many passes into bad places. By far, this was the most encouraging thing for the Jets. His signature drive came in the fourth quarter, when he led his team 80 yards to the game-clinching touchdown. That's what great quarterbacks do. Sanchez isn't there yet, but he's made tremendous progress since the Week 1 stinker.
• Revis' importance to the defense never was more evident than in this game. Without Revis (hamstring), the secondary was torched by a team that doesn't like to throw the ball. The Dolphins are a run-oriented offense, but they couldn't pass up the temptation to throw against the Jets. Chad Henne passed for 363 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. After an early sack by former Dolphin Jason Taylor, the pass rush went into hiding, exposing the man-to-man coverage in the secondary. CB Antontio Cromartie, living down to his reputation as a bad tackler, cost the defense 22 yards by whiffing on Brandon Marshall, nearly costing the Jets the game.
• Rookie CB Kyle Wilson, pressed into the starting lineup with Revis home with a hamstring injury, was roughed up by a pedestrian Miami receiving corps. With Cromartie matched against Marshall, Wilson had to cover Davone Bess. On the Dolphins' first scoring drive, Wilson was burned twice for 34 yards by Bess, but the killer was a 27-yard pass-interference penalty on Brian Hartline. That gave Miami a first and goal at the 3, and they scored on a mismatch, with tiny CB Drew Coleman getting boxed out by TE Anthony Fasano on a scoring pass.
• Dustin Keller dominated in the first half, with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown, 24 yards, came on a slant-and-go, culminating the Jets' opening drive. Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer set it up nicely, calling three previous slants. This time, safety Yeremiah Bell bit on Sanchez' pump fake, and Keller took it deep. Problem was, the Dolphins adjusted their pass coverage and neutralized Keller.