Final

Dolphins 24

(11-5, 6-2 away)

Jets 17

(9-7, 5-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

4:15 PM ET, December 28, 2008

Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 0 14 7 324
NYJ 0 9 8 017

Top Performers

Passing: B. Favre (NYJ) - 233 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: L. Washington (NYJ) - 10 CAR, 60 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: L. Coles (NYJ) - 4 REC, 88 YDS, 1 TD

Pennington earns vindication in Dolphins' defeat of Jets

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Chad Pennington was in the opposing locker room at the stadium where he spent the first eight years of his career, a big smile peeking out from a gray Miami Dolphins "Division Champions" cap.

Fast Facts

• The Dolphins closed season with their fifth straight win and fifth straight road win, going from 1-15 to 11-5 and winning AFC East title (first since 2000). The 10-win improvement is tied with the 1999 Colts for best improvement in NFL history.

• The Jets had their five-game win streak against the Dolphins snapped, finishing the season by losing four of their last five games.

• It's the second time that Chad Pennington (two touchdown passes; eight TDs, one INT in last four games) beat Brett Favre in the Meadowlands in a season finale to clinch a playoff spot for his team (happened for the Jets in 2002).

• Favre threw three interceptions and had nine TDs and 18 INTs in his last 12 games of season.

-- ESPN research

• Rapid Reaction

"It's always a sweet feeling to be a champion," the Dolphins quarterback said after beating the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday. "That's what we are: AFC East champions. It's a great feeling. This organization has been unbelievable. They accepted me from the get-go. This has been an unbelievable ride."

And an improbable one at that.

Pennington, cut in the offseason by the Jets to make room for an aging Brett Favre, threw two touchdown passes against his former team and helped the Dolphins (11-5) complete a remarkable turnaround.

"It's not a revenge factor," Pennington said. "This week, being the 17th week, it was strictly focused on winning the championship, knowing that we controlled our own destiny. It just so happened that it had to come through New York. That's the only way fate would have it."

A year after going 1-15, the Dolphins joined the 1999 Indianapolis Colts as the only teams in NFL history to make 10-game improvements. Miami, under first-year coach Tony Sparano, has won five straight and nine of 10 in making the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons and winning its first AFC East title since 2000.

"I don't think words can describe it," running back Ronnie Brown said. "Earlier in the season, we could only imagine being in this situation."

And now, Miami (11-5) will host Baltimore (11-5) in the first round next Sunday.

"Around this time last year, we were going home with no return," receiver Ted Ginn Jr. said.

Meanwhile, Favre and the Jets (9-7) were left to wonder what happened to them -- and what's to come.

After an 8-3 start and being mentioned as possible Super Bowl contenders with an NFL-high seven Pro Bowl selections, New York went into a tailspin by losing four of its last five -- with Favre looking every bit a 39-year-old quarterback.

"The hardest part is the finality of it," Favre said, "especially when you expect to go on."

Whether Favre goes on remains to be seen. He said he'll have an MRI exam Monday on his ailing right shoulder, saying it would affect his decision on whether he'll come back for another season. Favre said he's been feeling discomfort in the shoulder for quite some time.

"It hurts in the back [of the shoulder], hurts down in the biceps and, occasionally, in my neck," he said. "Other than that, it's fine."

Miami Dolphins New York Jets

NFL.com Video

Watch highlights from the Miami Dolphins' 24-17 win over the New York Jets.

If this truly was it for Favre, who has yet to announce his plans, it wasn't a pretty ending. The 18-year veteran was 20-of-40 for 233 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions.

It's also uncertain whether Jets coach Eric Mangini will return for a fourth season, although he said he thinks he will.

"We have never discussed it throughout the course of the season," he said," but that's my anticipation."

Meanwhile, Pennington, who went from the scrap heap to an MVP candidate, finished 22-of-30 for 200 yards and TD throws to Ginn and Anthony Fasano. Phillip Merling also returned an interception 29 yards for a score.

"We were able to change this around with a good coach who came in with pride and passion," Ginn said. "We got a great quarterback and our D stepped up for us. That's all you could ask for."

The Jets took a 17-14 lead on Leon Washington's 10-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion early in the third quarter after taking advantage of a special teams mistake by the Dolphins. Punter Brandon Fields couldn't handle John Denney's high snap, and the ball bounced behind him before he fell on it at the Miami 28.

Facing a third-and-14 at the 32, Favre connected with Jerricho Cotchery for 15 yards to keep the drive alive. After a 7-yard run, Washington went up the middle for 10 more and a score. Cotchery then caught a pass in the front of the end zone on the 2-point conversion.

But Miami came right back with a six-play scoring drive, with Fasano making a twisting, turning 20-yard touchdown catch in the end zone to make it 21-17.

Dan Carpenter kicked a 48-yard field goal into the wind, making it 24-17 with 9:20 left in the game.

Miami took a 14-6 lead by scoring twice in a span of 15 seconds late in the first half on Ginn's 27-yard catch with 2:18 remaining and Merling's interception return.

"[It's] disappointment more than anything," Washington said. "From the beginning of December, we had a chance to control our own destiny and that's where you want to be at. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had."

Game notes


Miami tight end David Martin took a blow to his head in the first quarter and didn't return. ... Jets linebacker David Harris left after injuring an ankle in the second half. ... The Jets had won the last five meetings. ... New York RB Thomas Jones, who entered as the AFC's leading rusher, finished with just 23 yards on 10 carries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MIA
NYJ
1st Downs1816
Passing 1st downs
913
Rushing 1st downs
82
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
6-147-13
4th down efficiency
1-20-0
Total Plays6162
Total Yards319331
Yards per play5.25.3
Total Drives1013
Passing193251
Comp-Att
22-3121-41
Yards per pass
6.06.1
Interceptions thrown
03
Sacks-Yards Lost
1-70-0
Rushing12680
Rushing Attempts
2921
Yards per rush
4.33.8
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-02-3
Penalties6-305-36
Turnovers14
Fumbles lost
11
Interceptions thrown
03
Defensive / Special Teams TDs10
Possession33:4826:12

Passing Leaders

MIAC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Pennington22/302006.7201-7
Brown0/100.0000-0
NYJC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Favre20/402335.8130-0
Smith1/11818.0000-0

Rushing Leaders

MIACARYDSAVGTDLG
Brown11575.2023
Williams10505.0011
NYJCARYDSAVGTDLG
Washington10606.0113
Jones10232.308

Receiving Leaders

MIARECYDSAVGTDLG
Ginn27135.5144
Fasano33913.0120
NYJRECYDSAVGTDLG
Coles48822.0127
Stuckey45012.5026

Scoring Summary

SECOND QUARTERMIANYJ
nyjTD6:55Laveranues Coles 13 Yard Pass From Brett Favre (Jay Feely Kick is No Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 51 yds, 3:51
06
miaTD2:25Ted Ginn Jr. 27 Yard Pass From Chad Pennington (Dan Carpenter Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 60 yds, 2:12
76
miaTD2:12Phillip Merling 25 Yard Interception Return (Dan Carpenter Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 25 yds, 0:00
146
nyjFG0:04Jay Feely 28 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yds, 2:03
149
THIRD QUARTERMIANYJ
nyjTD10:35Leon Washington 10 Yard Run (Brett Favre Pass to Jerricho Cotchery For Two-Point Conversion is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 28 yds, 2:01
1417
miaTD7:16Anthony Fasano 20 Yard Pass From Chad Pennington (Dan Carpenter Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 3:17
2117
FOURTH QUARTERMIANYJ
miaFG9:25Dan Carpenter 48 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 6 plays, 19 yds, 3:21
2417