Dolphins steal Jets' swagger
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Mark Sanchez slowly picked himself off the turf while the Miami Dolphins celebrated around him.
Six days after an embarrassing loss, the New York Jets were left trying to explain another one, falling 10-6 at a soggy New Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday.
"It was horrible," center Nick Mangold said. "It's not the way we envisioned, not the way we wanted."
The frustration on the Jets sideline boiled over in the third quarter when Sal Alosi, New York's strength and conditioning coach, tripped Miami's Nolan Carroll while the rookie was covering a punt.
Alosi could face discipline from both the team and league.
"I made a mistake that showed a total lapse in judgment," Alosi said in a statement a few hours after the game.
While the Dolphins (7-6) weren't much better than the Jets on the field -- in fact, they were worse on offense -- they kept their playoff hopes alive by turning two early turnovers into their only points.
"We felt if we got out in front of them, it kind of takes a lot out of them," said Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught the game's only touchdown.
"We're not going to call them front-runners, but we noticed that when you get out and score fast, hit them in the mouth fast," he added, "they tend to be the ones getting off the ground second."
The Jets (9-4) were coming off a 45-3 loss at New England on Monday night, and coach Rex Ryan even buried a game ball in front of his team before practice to try to put that defeat behind them.
"Hopefully they'll bury one of our footballs, too," Marshall said.
Indeed, this one might be even more bitter for the Jets. It got so bad, Ryan acknowledged he even considered benching an ineffective Sanchez in the third quarter.
"I thought about it, but he's not the only one to blame," Ryan said. "If I thought that was the case, we'd have done it."
Sanchez was 17 of 44 for 216 yards and one costly interception. He misfired often, and the offense never got into a rhythm.
"I can't play like that," he said. "I can't be a roller coaster."
Much of the game was played in a downpour, which made for inept offensive performances on both sides in the sloppy conditions. The Dolphins gained 131 yards, with Chad Henne passing for only 55, yet still won.
"Ten points definitely isn't enough in this league," Henne said. "Our defense, you've got to take your hat off to them. They played a heck of a game."
Miami seemed to be the more inspired team after coming up to the New York area a day earlier than usual, practicing in the Giants' facility over the weekend and even taking in a showing of "Lombardi" on Broadway.
"We came out swinging," Henne said.
The Jets moved the ball better, picking up 286 yards. But Sanchez's fumble led to the only touchdown, Marshall's 6-yard catch in the first quarter.
Earlier, Carroll's interception set up Dan Carpenter's 47-yard field goal.
By far the most effective player on the wet field was Dolphins punter Brandon Fields. He finished with 10 kicks for a 50-yard average.
"The elements were a factor in the rain, and so it came down to me blocking it out and doing my job," Fields said. "It gave us a chance to turn the field on the Jets."
Nick Folk hit field goals of 35 and 42 yards for New York, which has lost two straight and faces tough road games at Pittsburgh and Chicago.
"We don't have time to just sit around and feel sorry for ourselves," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said.
For a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, the Jets are now two games behind the Patriots (11-2) in the AFC East with plenty to fix.
"You can't do what we're doing now," New York's Jason Taylor said.
The Jets won the coin toss and chose to receive rather than defer for the first time in Ryan's tenure. The defensive-minded coach said he wanted to help the offense get off to a faster start than it had in recent weeks.
It didn't work. New York went three-and-out, and Sanchez was nearly intercepted. The Jets' second offensive series opened with Ben Hartsock getting called for a personal foul for grabbing a facemask, making it first-and-25. Three plays later, Sanchez forced a pass to Santonio Holmes that Carroll easily picked off.
Miami capitalized to take a 3-0 lead.
New York turned it over again on its next possession when Kendall Langford sacked Sanchez and forced the ball out, and Quentin Moses recovered at the Jets 26. Marshall's TD catch gave the Dolphins a 10-0 lead with 2:48 left in the first quarter.
The Jets got the ball at the Dolphins 38 after a fumble in the second quarter, but in a play that summarized the day for New York, Holmes dropped a perfectly thrown pass while he was wide open in the left corner of the end zone on third down. New York settled for a 35-yarder by Folk to make it 10-3.
"We're talking about making a run. Well, these are the games that you have to win," Cotchery said. "Whatever it is, we have to get it fixed fast."
Notes: The Dolphins had six sacks, including two by NFL leader Cameron Wake, who has 14. ... Marshall finished with two catches for 16 yards after missing two games with a right hamstring injury. ... Jets RT Damien Woody left with a right knee injury and was scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday. S Eric Smith also left with what Ryan thinks could be a concussion.
Updated December 12, 2010