Dolphins Ground Jets, Adios Jason Taylor
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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – The New York Jets will sit out the playoffs, and that’s guaranteed.
The Jets failed to fulfill coach Rex Ryan’s pledge to win a Super Bowl title, with Sunday’s 19-17 loss at Miami eliminating them from the chase for an AFC wild-card berth.
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last coming with the Jets threatening to take a late lead. They gave up six third-down conversions during the Dolphins’ 21-play, 94-yard drive for their only touchdown.
The Jets (8-8) came into the game needing a win along with losses by three other teams to reach the playoffs. Instead they finished the season with three consecutive defeats, a big step backward for a team that reached the AFC championship game each of the past two years.
The Jets again were victims of their own mistakes, with each interception leading to a field goal. They’ve given up 126 points off turnovers this year, the most in the NFL.
Jason Taylor harried Sanchez into an interception and was carried off the field after the game. It was a rare moment of celebration for the Dolphins (6-10), who completed their third consecutive losing season, their longest such stretch since the 1960s. They fired coach Tony Sparano on Dec. 12 and have begun the search for a successor.
Sanchez’s final misfire came at the Miami 10 with 3 minutes left and the Jets trailing 16-10. Reserve linebacker Marvin Mitchell stepped in front of intended receiver Shonn Greene and rumbled 55 yards to set up a field goal.
The 305-pound Starks came away with two interceptions.
Taylor, who said Wednesday he would retire at the end of his 15th NFL season, sent the crowd into pandemonium when he scooped up a fumble and scored with 2½ minutes left. However, a replay review negated the turnover, with the officials determining the ball carrier was down before the fumble.
The Jets then scored with 1:15 to go on Sanchez’s 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner, but Miami’s Brandon Marshall recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win. Taylor played tailback in the Dolphins’ victory formation as quarterback Matt Moore twice took a knee to run out the clock.
The Dolphins took the lead for good in the fourth quarter with a drive that took 12 minutes and 29 seconds. Moore threw completions to convert all six third downs during the sequence, including on the final play when he hit Charles Clay with a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The drive set franchise records for the number of plays and time of possession.
Otherwise the Dolphins’ offense sputtered without 1,000-yard rusher Reggie Bush, who sat out with a right knee injury. Dan Carpenter compensated with field goals of 44, 58, 40 and 44 yards.
Trickery paid off early for the Jets when rookie receiver Jeremy Kerley took the snap from the wildcat and threw to a wide-open Dustin Keller for 41 yards. Three plays later, Keller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to put the Jets up 7-3.
Otherwise, Sanchez and his offense sputtered, while the Dolphins looked dismal at times, too. The nadir occurred during an unsightly drive in the second quarter, when the Jets committed four false-start penalties while Miami had two 5-yard penalties. The merciful ending came with a New York field goal.
There was another comedy of errors in the final minute of the second quarter, when the teams traded interceptions 16 seconds apart. The second takeaway, by Starks, set up Carpenter’s 58-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
The stands were perhaps half full, reflecting the disenchantment of Dolphins fans. Owner Stephen Ross drew jeers when he honored Taylor during a pregame ceremony, and a small plane overhead tugged a banner that called for the firing of general manager Jeff Ireland.
The Dolphins (6-10) completed their third consecutive losing season, their longest such stretch since the 1960s.
Sundays game was the last Taylor who hung up his up his cleats after a 223 game 15 year career.
Drafted by the Dolphins in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft, Taylor has been a Pro Bowl selection six times and in 2006 was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. Taylor has also scored more fumble returns for touchdowns (nine) than any other defensive linemen.
During his career Taylor also played with the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets.
In addition to being a four time All-Pro, Taylor also received the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the only league honor that recognizes both on-field achievements and off-the-field contributions.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)