To me there was a single turning point in the game. Late in the third quarter through early in the fourth quarter, with the score still stuck at 6-3 in favor of the Dolphins, neither team having scored in the second half, the Jets put together a long drive from their own 18 yard line down to the Dolphins 20. It was the only time all day the Jets got to the Red Zone. A sack and a penalty backed the Jets up to the 32 yard line, where Jason Myers missed badly on a 50 yard field goal try that would have tied the game.
It was heart breaking to be turned away without a score after the team’s best offensive drive of the game. With the Dolphins in great field position at their own 40 yard line the Jets defense could have been deflated and finally broken a bit on the ensuing Dolphins possession. Instead the defense did what they did all game, shutting down the Dolphins, forcing a quick three and out and getting the Jets offense the ball right back deep in their own territory with a little less than 12 minutes to go in the game.
One successful drive would have tied the game or put the Jets in the lead. On the first play Isaiah Crowell runs the ball for minimal gain. Then on second and nine at the Jets 16 yard line Sam Darnold lines up in the shotgun. Spencer Long snaps the ball too high, one of many bad snaps on the day. Darnold does a nice job going up and corralling the ball, and he comes back down with it with enough time to get a pass off. Darnold then throws a pass to the sideline to a blanketed Eric Tomlinson that never had a chance. The Dolphins’ Jerome Baker steps in front for the easy interception, then waltzes into the end zone for a touchdown that broke the game open for the Dolphins.
Going from nearly tying the game up to going down two scores in the fourth quarter broke the Jets on Sunday. Down 6-3 with the defense dominating the Dolphins offense it always felt like the Jets were one big play from at least getting the game tied up. Down 10 points on a day the Jets offense never got the ball past the Dolphins 20 yard line felt like a bridge too far. From that point on, it felt like the game was all but over, a Jets loss all but inevitable.
The Sam Darnold pick six, with an assist from Spencer Long and the Jets coaching staff for keeping Long out there, was the most important play of the game for me.
What about you? What do you think was the most important play of the game?