By Abraham Gutierrez
Thanks to an all-around effort on both sides of the football, the Miami Dolphins captured their third straight win, rallying to outlast the New York Jets, 31-28, Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. The victory improves the Fins’ record to 4-2 on the year, (momentarily) drawing them into a three-way tie atop the AFC East.
“Like I said man, they have to stop doubting us,” said an emotional Jarvis Landry after the game. “This team, man, we’ve been through everything this year. We’ve been through hurricanes. We’ve been through 16,000 miles, man. To be down two weeks in a row and do it like this, man. I couldn’t be proud enough, man, in this whole organization, in all my teammates and the city of Miami.”
Led by quarterback Jay Cutler, Miami’s offense got off to its best start of the season, scoring 14 points in the opening two stanzas after falling behind by two scores. Prior to leaving the game due to injury, Cutler completed 12-of-16 passes for 138 yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick for a quarterback-rating of 114.1.
However, the 12th-year man out Vanderbilt would exit the proceedings in the third quarter after a vicious hit from Jets outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins. Cutler was taken to the locker room and did not return. His status for Thursday’s game at Baltimore is doubtful.
“Something with his chest, kind of ribs area,” Gase said when asked for updates on the severity of Cutler’s injury. “I’ll probably have a better feel tonight, a little later, so, it’s just hard for me to say anything right now.”
Cutler’s inability to continue meant that Dolphins fans would finally get their wish, as backup Matt Moore’s number was called in relief. After a rough start (INT), the Oregon State product would settle down and lead the Fins to victory with some impressive sequences that would electrify the home crowd.
“It’s one of those things when you know a guy goes down other guys step up,” Gase explained. “The great thing about Matt is that he’s a veteran and we’ve done this before. He just has a knack for just going out there and playing the game without fear.
“He prepares the right way. He does everything right during the week to allow him to play like that and he just knows when his number is called he just has to go out there and pick up right where we were going.”
Moore would finish the game by completing 13-of-21 pass attempts for 188 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception to earn a 102.9 QBR.
“I’ve called enough games for him,” Gase added. “The best thing for me is just dialing up the things I absolutely know he knows and just kind of let those guys do everything they can to make plays and we had some good matchups.”
As a unit, the Dolphins offense tallied 24 first downs (16 passing, 3 rushing, 5 via penalty) and 357 yards (304 passing yards, but only 53 rushing yards) of total offense. The Jets defense did a great job of containing Miami’s ground game, daring them to throw the football by stacking the box.
Thus, some of Miami’s offensive standouts included wide receivers Kenny Stills (6 catches, 85 yards, 2 TDs) and Jarvis Landry (7 catches, 93 yards, TD), along with tight-end duo of Anthony Fasano (3 catches, 25 yards, TD) and Julius Thomas (3 catches, 58 yards).
Unlike the offense, Miami’s defense got off to an atrocious start, surrendering 14 points in the first quarter thanks in large part to poor tackling. This team would battle for 60 minutes, however, eventually setting up the game-winning field goal with an opportunistic turnover with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter.
As a unit, the Fins “D” would allow the Jets to rack up 16 first downs (10 passing, 4 rushing and 2 thanks to penalties) and 272 yards (180 passing yards, 92 rushing yards) of total offense.
Defensive standouts for Miami this afternoon included defensive end Cameron Wake (4 tackles, 2.5 sacks), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (2 tackles, 0.5 sacks) and the man who picked off Jets quarterback Josh McCown with 39 seconds left in the game, cornerback Bobby McCain (2 tackles, INT, PD).
Special Teams: A+
Winning close games is all about doing the little things, and Miami’s special teams unit has been one of the constants during its ongoing three-game winning streak.
Rookie kicker Cody Parkey remained perfect on the year, converting in his only field-goal try of the game (39-yard game winner), along with going 4-for-4 in extra-point opportunities.
Punter Matt Haack continues to state his case for a Pro Bowl selection, bouncing away 6 punts for an average of 44.5 yards, a long of 58 yards and two boots that were nicely placed inside the Jets’ 20-yard line.
Miami’s coaching staff isn’t worthy of an A+ letter grade because of two main reasons: Poor defensive strategy and its inability to get running back Jay Ajayi going.
Penalties were also an issue, as this team was flagged nine times for 76 negative yards. Nevertheless, a win is a win, especially when the starting quarterback is forced out with the game on the line.
“We’re going to enjoy this probably another 2 hours and then we’re on to the next one,” said Gase looking forward to Thursday’s primetime game in the Charm City.
Next Up: Quick turnaround against Ravens on Thursday night
After an exhilarating win, Miami hits the road yet again, this time on a short week. Under the bright lights of M&T Bank Stadium in Maryland, the Fins will take on the Baltimore Ravens to kick off Week 8 with Thursday Night Football.