Dolphins 31 Jets 27: Bitter Classic

 

If the Jets lose the division by one game, they will remember this one all offseason. It was back and forth all night. The game was won, but Miami just flat out took it back from them.

More after the jump.

The Bad:

Defense in the Trenches: Sometimes a loss requires deep analysis. This is not one of those times. What happened last night was the Dolphins offensive line totally outplayed the Jets up front. Especially late in the game, the Jets were losing individual matchups and badly. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are terrific backs. They don’t need much room. They had plenty of holes to work in that game. They took huge chunks of yardage on just about every play late and held the ball over 33:00. This defense is full of playmakers, but nobody stepped up when given the lead with 5:00 needing one stop. Where was Shaun Ellis? Where was David Harris? How about Bart Scott or Calvin Pace? Kerry Rhodes? Kris Jenkins was the one player in there consistently beating his man and getting off blocks, but that wasn’t enough. The Dolphins put together three go ahead drives in the fourth. The Dolphins put together three go ahead touchdown drives in the fourth. It was frankly because their offensive line kicked the tail of the Jets front seven. They don’t try to deceive you on offense. You know what’s coming. It’s all about executed, and they sure executed.

Revis Island Invaded: Football’s a funny game. Darrelle Revis shuts down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marques Colston. Then he gets burned in a critical spot by Ted Ginn. I know Ginn is really fast, but so are Moss and Johnson. The best corner in the NFL picked a bad time for his first critical failure of the year.

Not calling timeouts: Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but I’m not sure why the Jets didn’t burn their timeouts once the Dolphins reached the red zone and it was obvious they were going to at least tie the game. Leave some time on the clock for a hot Mark Sanchez. Bad time management.

The Good:

Mark Sanchez: Way to bounce back from a rough game. You had to love the command and comfort he showed leading the 2:00 offense before the half. Also had to be impressed with the rookie rallying the team from fourth quarter deficits twice in such a hostile environment. All of those great catches Braylon Edwards made? Only possible because Sanchez put the ball perfectly in a spot for his receiver to make a play. Great effort in a high pressure game in enemy territory.

Braylon Edwards: Talk about making a big impact right off the bat. The book on Edwards is he makes the difficult catches and drops the easy ones. All 5 of his receptions were tough ones in traffic. He looked like a guy ready to break out as though he has new life. Then again, wouldn’t you feel the same way if you were released from football Siberia a few days ago? He’s going to provide major life for this offense.

David Clowney: Those of us who have been waiting for this moment were thrilled. Clowney had 4 catches for a team leading 72 yards, including a 53 yard one. Mr. August has arrived in the regular season. If this truly was a coming out party, this offense just became much more dynamic with Edwards and Clowney on the outside. No defense can stick eight in the box and sacrifice a safety with both of them on the field.

Leon Washington: 11 offensive touches, 57 yards. It’s time to really start thinking about making him the number one back.

Brad Smith: Smith’s been great on special teams coverage, but we haven’t seen much of his athleticism make things happen on the field. His 19 yard catch and run and broken tackles to covert a fake punt into a first down are glimpes of what he can turn into if he can ever become a more complete receiver.

The two fake punts: The coaching staff obviously saw something on film and prepared superbly. I disagree with the television announcers. I think the first one was called from the bench. It didn’t look like Steve Weatherford was facing any heat. In any event, brilliantly executed both times. I’m a bit leery on the first one. The Dolphins were up 7-0 then, and the crowd was rocking. If that blew up in the Jets’ face, the game could have gotten out of control. I wasn’t a huge fan of depending on the punter to beat a linebacker to the corner. As long as it works, though, I’m not complaining. The second one would have been an excellent call even had it failed. They definitely caught the Dolphins sleeping. Miami probably thought there was no way there would be another fake. It was the perfect spot for a gamble on the Dolphins’ side of the field.

The offensive line: I saw all five guys winning matchups and keeping Sanchez clean against a very stiff pass rush. They also cleared holes all night for Washington. It really looked like a group of four first rounders.

Other Thoughts:


• Chad Henne really impressed me a lot. He made nothing but good decisions, didn’t force anything, and showed a lot of composure when the Jets brought heat.


• Also credit Miami’s coaching staff. They made a lot of good tactical moves like double tight end sets to push out the edge further on blitzes. Also leaving in extra blockers for Henne and rolling him out to escape pressure.


• The Wildcat is here to stay. I don’t see any other team using it as a blueprint against the Jets, though. No team runs it like the Dolphins


• I feel like this was a statement game for Miami. I don’t just mean for this year even though they just asserted themselves as contenders. This game shows that last year isn’t a fluke, and they are here to stay.

More than anything, I came away really impressed with this Dolphin team. I didn’t think they would have this kind of success against this defense in a million years. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very disappointed, but unlike last week, I feel like the Jets didn’t lose this game. The other guys won it. It’s going to be one heck of a ride in the East this season, and we probably just saw the first of many battles between two young quarterbacks on the rise.

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