Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jets win ugly London battle with Dolphins

JETS 27
DOLPHINS 14

It was not pretty, but it was still a win as the Jets found a way to outlast (barely) the Miami Dolphins 27-14 in London, England on Sunday. With the exception of a couple spurts of brilliance the Jets played sloppy on both sides of the football, and one comes away with the impression that if the Jets had played a better opponent the results on Sunday afternoon would have been far different. In other words the Jets have a lot of work to do during their bye week.

The Jets committed 14 penalties for 163 yards; they turned the ball over only once, and it could have been twice were it not for a Chris Ivory fumble being overturned. They allowed the Dolphins to run all over them for 126 yards in the fourth quarter, and nearly blew a huge 27-7 lead. And to top it off Ryan Fitzpatrick did little to quiet the Geno Smith talk that began last week.

First lets talk about the good. The Jets got off to a flying start in this game when Fitzpatrick hit Brandon Marshall in stride down the sideline for 58-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later Chris Ivory pounded his way through the line and got the football over the goal line for the score and a 7-0 lead.

After a Miami three and out, the Jets once again were on the charge. A couple of nice connections between Fitzpatrick and Marshall highlighted the drive, including a nice 12-yard screen pass to Bilal Powell that set up a Nick Folk field goal and a 10-0 advantage.

However, the story of the day had to be the defense. The Jets harassed Dolphins Ryan Tannehill all day long. New York blitzed Tannehill 35 of the 48 drop backs the quarterback took, and sent a defensive back on a blitz 22 times. Overall the Jets held Miami to a grand total of 0-for-12 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down. Through three quarters the Jets held Miami to just seven first downs and 106 yards of offense.

The Jets defense single handily won this game for Gang Green as they held off two late Miami charges in the fourth quarter with big time interceptions in the end zone to prevent Miami for scoring late, and shocking the Jets.

After a Jets three-and-out, Jarvis Landry brought back a punt 25-yards to the Jets 40, setting up Miami in great field position with plenty of time to go in the game. The Dolphins marched all the way to the Jets 4-yard line thanks to a 16-yard completion from Tannehill to Landry as well as hideous penalties on the Jets.  New York had Miami dead to rights on fourth and goal, when Tannehill's intended pass for Greg Jennings was incomplete. But, the referees called defensive holding on Buster Skrine, handing Miami new life at the Jets two yard line.



Even with Miami right on the cusp of scoring the Jets defense held. Offensive pass interference was called on the Dolphins for chipping at the line to open up Landry in the end zone. The penalty pushed Miami back to the 12, and the Jets finished them off. New York forced the Dolphins into another fourth and goal, and this time Darrelle Revis came up with a huge interception in the end zone to prevent a Miami Dolphins touchdown.

Yet don't tell the Jets offense that their defense was helping them on Sunday, because another woeful drive by Fitzpatrick and the Jets resulted in another Jets punt. Miami once again had a chance.

Tannehill hit Kenny Stills from 42-yards for a first and ten at the Jets 26, and it appeared that Miami would not be denied this time. Then again, the Jets defense had other plans. They forced Tannehill to throw three incompletions in a row to set up fourth down and ten at the Jets 26. New York finally sent the house once more on fourth down, forcing Tannehill to throw off his back foot. The football dropped right through the hands of Jordan Cameron and into the hands of Marcus Williams for a Jets interception, icing it.

Like I wrote earlier, Fitzpatrick did nothing to quiet his doubters. He had his moments like the bomb to Brandon Marshall to start the game. He even looked good in a couple of big third down scrambles, including a 19-yard scamper on third and two in the second quarter that helped lead to New York's second touchdown of the day. Fitzpatrick would finish that second quarter drive with a 10-yard bullet to Eric Decker for the touchdown and a 20-7 lead.

He would even orchestrate a nice scoring drive to open the second half that culminated in a Zac Stacy touchdown to make it 27-7.

That being said there was a whole lot of eye rolling moments. Too many times, Fitzpatrick threw into the ground, or over threw receivers. Twice he threw the football into triple coverage.

The Jets could have easily blown this game wide open early, but Fitzpatrick was unable to get the Jets into the end zone on their second possession, and was this close to throwing a pick in the red zone in the first quarter. The Jets settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead. Plus the Jets final four drives of the day resulted in an interception and three punts. That's not going to get it done. Fitzpatrick was 16-for-29 for 218 yards. He was good in some spots. Bad in others. The talk that his job is not secure as Geno Smith is ready to return will only heat up.

In a lot of ways, New York was very lucky to have Chris Ivory healthy for this game. After missing Week 3 against Philadelphia, Ivory was back with vengeance. He gashed the Dolphins for 166 yards and a touchdown. He churned out tough yards in big spots, and worked a tiring Dolphins defense as the second half was getting under way. It was a shame that they got away from Ivory in the fourth quarter, because he could have really eaten a lot of clock.

While the Jets will take the win -- they will do so with full knowledge they have a lot to clean up. 14 penalties is inexcusable, and a lack of consistency on offense is also inexcusable, especially in a game against a team that should have been a 30+ point blowout in the Jets favor. The Dolphins did nothing to warrant being in this game, but New York kept them in it.

The Jets enter a bye week next week -- a much needed bye. The Jets will face the Redskins in two weeks at the Meadowlands on November 18 at 1:00 on FOX.

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