Razor-sharp Fitzpatrick helps Jets buzz Dolphins 38-20
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick was razor sharp while lifting the New York Jets to their best offensive showing of the season.
Beard trims and big performances certainly seem to go together for the veteran quarterback.
Fitzpatrick threw four touchdown passes, two to Brandon Marshall, and the Jets routed the Miami Dolphins 38-20 Sunday to gain traction in the AFC wild-card race. It came a few days after Fitzpatrick had his bushy facial hair neatly cropped for his 33rd birthday Tuesday.
''It was just a little long,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I need it to grow in a little more. I kind of miss it.''
Not so fast.
Last year, Fitzpatrick got a similar shave for his 32nd birthday – and followed it up with the best game of his career while with Houston: 358 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-21 victory over Tennessee.
''The beard should never, ever come back,'' declared Marshall, who had nine catches for 131 yards.
Added wide receiver Eric Decker: ''We'll pitch in for a weekly trim.''
Whatever it was, it worked for the Jets (6-5), who had lost four of their last five. That slump had New York go from early season sensations after a 4-1 start to a team that was watching its postseason hopes fading fast.
''I think we are a playoff team,'' Marshall said. ''You're seeing a lot of ups and downs, but we also know that we're capable of getting the job done.''
Fitzpatrick, in his 100th career start, went 22 of 37 for 277 yards and also connected for TDs with Devin Smith, the rookie's first NFL touchdown, and Decker in New York's fourth win in the last five meetings with the Dolphins (4-7).
''We needed to right the ship,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''This was an important one for us.''
Here are some other things to know about the Jets' victory over the Dolphins:
NOWHERE TO RUN: New York's defense held the Dolphins to just 12 yards on nine rushes.
It was the fewest yards on the ground the Jets have allowed in franchise history, which dates to 1960 in the AFL. The previous mark was 16 yards by the Patriots earlier this season, a game the Jets lost 30-23. The nine carries also tied for the fewest by a Jets opponent – New England in that Oct. 25 game.
Miami's longest gain on the ground Sunday was 4 yards by Jarvis Landry, a wide receiver. Jay Ajayi had 6 yards on three carries and Lamar Miller was held to 2 yards on five carries.
''We knew it was going to be tough to run it on these guys,'' Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell said.
ROOKIE BREAKTHROUGHS: The Jets' Smith and DeVante Parker of the Dolphins finally found the end zone.
Smith, a second-round pick from Ohio State, ran a gorgeous post pattern for his 16-yard touchdown catch from Fitzpatrick with 8 seconds left in the second quarter. It was his ninth catch this season.
Parker, a first-rounder from Louisville chosen 14th overall, got his first TD with 5 seconds remaining in the game, making several moves to finish off a 33-yard play. It came on his fourth and final reception Sunday, giving him eight catches for the season.
CAMPBELL'S DROOP: Miami dropped to 3-4 under Campbell, who took over after Joe Philbin was fired following the Dolphins' lopsided loss to the Jets in London last month.
''There's nothing I can say that's going to make that look better,'' Campbell said. ''We got whipped. We got whipped the first time and we got whipped the second time. Those are the facts.''
BANGED UP: Miami receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs/chest), center Mike Pouncey (right foot) and defensive tackles Earl Mitchell (calf) and C.J. Mosley (calf) left with injuries.
Matthews was hurt on a hard hit from Calvin Pryor, who celebrated the play several yards away. Matthews, meanwhile, needed a few minutes to get up before walking gingerly to the sideline.
''That's kind of a classless move to celebrate when a guy's injured,'' Tannehill said. ''It was a good hit, a clean hit. But to celebrate when a guy's down is kind of a classless move.''
Pryor took to Twitter a few hours after the game to fire back at Tannehill: ''Throw a better ball next time (at)ryantannehill1,'' the safety wrote. ''Teammate would've never got injured!!! Sorry if you felt I was classless at the moment.'' He added that he was ''definitely celebrating the great play I made. I would never celebrate someone getting injured during the game. C'mon now.''
IVORY SHINES: Chris Ivory finished with 87 yards on 21 carries, but it was his 31-yard touchdown run that will make the highlight reels. The Jets' bulldozing back broke at least four tackles on his way to the end zone.
''Oh my gosh,'' Marshall said. ''He's a monster.''
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- Calvin Pryor
- Chris Ivory
- DeVante Parker
- Earl Mitchell
- Eric Decker
- Jarvis Landry
- Jay Ajayi
- Lamar Miller
- Miami Dolphins
- Mike Pouncey
- New York Jets
- Rishard Matthews
- Ryan Fitzpatrick