This defense looked to be close to hitting another gear last game and did so this game but they did start off slow before becoming a big factor in this Miami Dolphins decisive victory that gives them their first winning season going back to 2008.
The slow start allowed the Jets to score on the first drive but they did get on track before the game got out of hand. It did look shaky and reminiscent of past games when this was almost expected but with better coaching Vance Joseph was able to make the right adjustments and be part of a winning formula the Miami Dolphins needed.
On that first drive the run was defended poorly at times allowing positive yards from Bilal Powell along with short to intermediate passes that culminated with Robby Anderson taking one for 40 yards and the score. Andre Branch had a 5 yard Neutral Zone Infraction, Kiko Alonso over ran tackles and Baccari Rambo was covering Anderson when he scored on the slant play.
For the second drive the defense tightened things up on the Jets as they were driving with a nice field position start from the 46 yard line after a bad punt. Jelani Jenkins missed a tackle allowing Bilal Powell almost an extra 20 yards on an outside slant passing play. The pass rush had been lacking to this point aside from Ndamukong Suh getting to Jets QB Bryce Petty after a bad snap. After Brandon Marshall’s lone pass reception on the day for 16 yards. Suh gets a 5 yard Neutral Zone Infraction then a fire got lit in him as he started stopping Powell on running attempts.
On 3rd and 4 near the red zone Cameron Wake comes unimpeded on Petty who didn’t see him causing a strip sack Suh is there to recover it. A possible 14-0 Jets lead is averted this was a huge play giving Wake 10.5 sacks on the season and changing he momentum of the game.
Byron Maxwell went out of the game early from an ankle injury, he would test that ankle but not get back into the game. In all he played eight total snaps.
Xavien Howard just happened to return this game after not seeing action going back to week 4. The original plan was to work Howard into playing time as to not upset the chemistry already built up among the starting cornerbacks. Things changed after the injury to Maxwell. And Howard did admirably, as already noted Brandon Marshall had just one lone pass reception on the day for 16 yards on 11 attempts. Howard also had 3 solo tackles.
The Miami Dolphins were out-gained 103-16 total yards in the first quarter. So it did have a bleak outlook at the time. However The offense would get going and the Jets would finish the game with a total of 116 yards rushing. The defense started clamping down around the time the offense got going. Throw in a special teams score and the Jets had to lean on passing more to try to get caught up in the game. Add to that an effective pass rush and things got hard as Petty would find out.
Kiko Alonso absolutely bulled over Bilal Powell then hurdled over him in route to Petty on a play he was sent to rush on. However Petty hit Quincy Enunwa 27 yards downfield Xavien Howard missed the tackle on him as he changed field gaining momentum Neville Hewitt tackled him by the ankles potentially saving a TD as Enunwa had only Isa Abdul-Quddus in the vicinity.
Neville Hewitt keeps making the most from little playing time. What he lacks in physicality he makes up in instincts, drive and technique. He gets around 20 snaps a game on defense.
What happened next was a thing of beauty, Petty sets up to throw from his own 35 yard line while Wake had dropped back into coverage undetected, he intercepts the pass on the 23 yard line returning it back to the 35. This was the first interception of his career.
Xavien Howard made up for the previous missed tackle on a defended pass meant for Brandon Marshall. The rookie made a veteran move by wrapping his arm and hand around Marshall’s waist while gauging the ball breaking up the pass, he also jammed Marshall coming off the line. The amount of yards saved on the play was about the same as the one he gave up from his previous missed tackle. He would also deny Marshall a long would be pass reception later on late in the 3rd quarter.
Isa Abdul-Quddus came free on a rush getting to Petty and sacking him. The block from RB Powell was to no avail. Bryce Petty was holding the ball a long time in what he thought was an open pocket.
On a 4th and 1 stopped play Kiko Alonso got into the backfield tripping up RB Powell who then kept driving over players that were on the ground with his back facing the pile but looked to put a hand down and Earl Mitchell then covered him up. This play was challenged by Jets coach Todd Bowles but the play stood.
Plays like this seem small but carry a lot of weight in the overall scheme of things and increase in importance as the season grows late with playoffs on the line.
After a special teams Walt Aikens blocked punt, scoop and score. The Jets quickly strike downfield but Tony Lippett comes up with a spectacular interception. Petty under throws the ball somewhat and Lippett times it perfectly in front of Robby Anderson as if he was a WR. Wait, that’s right Lippett is a converted WR and he sure seems to be growing into his position.
By late in the 3rd quarter the Dolphins had the lead 34 – 10. The Jets would score a FG in the 4th. Neville Hewitt got a sack on Petty on what looked like an odd play (fake hand off to no one). Around this time a “Lets Go Dolphins” chant broke out pretty loudly at Met Life stadium. Dolfans NYC do/did a great job with the takeover and had some 1000 fans in the stands and showing support.
Bryce Petty found himself between Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh who came unblocked from the center snapping too soon most likely, one of the linemen had not even moved. Needless to say Petty’s day was done at that point.
Team Stats Jets
First Downs 20 Rush-Yds-TDs 23-116-0 Cmp-Att-Yd-TD-INT 25-46-266-1-3 Sacked-Yards 3-22 Net Pass Yards 244 Total Yards 360 Fumbles-Lost 3-1 Turnovers 4 Penalties-Yards 3-42 Third Down Conv. 5-15 Fourth Down Conv. 0-3 Time of Possession 32:32
Slant up the middle, they made it look easy early on.
•This game marks the third time a first-possession touchdown was allowed in the last four weeks.
•Cameron Wake is the first Dolphins defensive lineman with an INT and FF in the same game since 2006 (Jason Taylor did it twice that yr).
•The Miami Dolphins defense has the most penalties in the NFL as they entered this game with 50 penalties.
•Byron Maxwell leads the NFL CB’s with 4 forced fumbles it would be nice to get him back from injury.
This was among the best games the defense has played all season. It wasn’t just that they got three turnovers (4th one was last play) it was that they came at the most opportune moments in the game. Essentially adding to the backbreaking of the Jets just when they thought they had momentum in their favor.