With 89 seconds left in Sunday’s game the Jets found themselves trailing the Dolphins on the verge of an embarrassing season sweep. The offense put together a field goal drive that salvaged a victory.
This is the story of that drive.
1st and 10; NYJ 25; 1:29 left
The Dolphins opened the drive by bringing a blitz off the corner.
Sam Darnold isn’t fooled at all. One way to beat a blitz is to throw the ball to the area the blitzer vacated. Normally the corner would be carrying Vyncint Smith down the field, but a safety has to rotate down to pick him up. This leaves a huge window and Darnold and Smith adjust his route.
The safety makes a big mistake here trying to jump the route rather than concede the completion and tackle Smith.
If he tackles Smith, the play is a win for the Dolphins. The Jets gain only 6 yards, and plenty of time would come off the clock. You take that anytime as a defense holding the lead in the final 90 seconds of the game. Dolphins coaches made the better playcall in this situation forcing this throw. Darnold and Smith outexecuted the guys on the field.
Smith then outran a second tackler on his way to a 37 yard gain to put the Jets in business.
1st and 10; MIA 38; 1:22 left
On this play the Jets have three receivers running routes, and all three are to Darnold’s left. Robby Anderson is running a vertical route out of the slot (orange). Jamison Crowder is on a 10 yard route breaking out (red). Vyncint Smith is on an 8 yard route breaking in (yellow).
Anderson is blanketed. Crowder and Smith are both covered, but the leverage of the defenders at least opens a small window. Crowder is breaking outside against a defender with inside leverage, while Smith is breaking inside against a defender with outside leverage.
With no timeouts, Darnold targets Crowder who is breaking to the sideline. If the pass is completed, the receiver might be able to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
Ultimately a tough throw is just beyond Crowder’s reach.
2nd and 10; MIA 38; 1:17 left
Darnold’s three receivers are all covered here leaving no throwing lane.
Darnold takes off to his right because Tom Compton is getting bull rushed right into his face.
However, Daniel Brown loses hold of his block, and Darnold takes a sack
This is simply a sack that Darnold cannot take. With no timeouts, this is the last thing the Jets can afford. He should have just thrown the ball away and lived to play another down. This should have been a game ender.
3rd and 18; MIA 46; 0:47 left
With things looking bleak, the Jets go to a play almost identical to the one they ran two plays earlier. Three receivers go out on a pattern. All are on Darnold’s left. Anderson again goes deep out of the slot. Crowder is on an out route. Smith breaks in.
Again Anderson is covered. Crowder doesn’t have the leverage this time. Smith does so he gets the ball in his direction.
Rewatching this play, I really wish there was some sort of option for Smith to adjust his route and continue if the middle of the field is open. There’s a lot of daylight for him to separate and get up the field if so for a big gain.
The Jets needed a big play. Even if this pass is a completion, the Jets are facing a fourth down out of field goal range with the clock running because of where the route stops Smith.
Then fate intervenes. Darnold’s throw is a bit off target, but after a review Miami is hit with a pass interference penalty. This grants the Jets a fresh slate of downs. I’ll leave it up to others to determine whether it was the right call.
1st and 10; MIA 38; 0:43 left
The Jets initially send out four receivers into routes, and everybody is covered.
Then Ty Montgomery slips out after initially starting in pass protection. The Dolphins totally bust this coverage. Nobody is within shouting distance of Montgomery. This was such a bust that I can’t figure out what happened. Did they lose track of him because he blocked at first? Did the guy assigned to him blitz because they thought he was staying in? Did somebody mix up his assignment in the huddle? I have no idea, but Montgomery has an easy 12 yard gain.
But if the Dolphins failed to execute, let’s give Darnold some credit here. This is a spot in the game where there is a temptation for a young quarterback to force things. He could have been impatient and tried to throw deep into coverage trying to make something big happen. I think it would have been easy to try and do too much attempting make up for the sack. Instead Darnold stayed within himself with the game on the line and took what the defense gave him.
The Jets then centered the ball and ran down of the clock on a Montgomery run for no gain. Apologies to the diehard Ty Montgomery fans out there, but I won’t break that play down today. Nor will I break down Darnold’s spike to stop the clock with 3 seconds left.
Sam Ficken then stepped up and drilled a 44 yard field goal as time expired to win it.