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(Sunday, January 1st)
Final Score: Miami 19, NY Jets 17
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - The Miami Dolphins put the nail in the Jets' coffin.
The Jets needed a win Sunday and a lot of help to earn a playoff berth for a third straight year, something never accomplished by the franchise. But they couldn't even hold up their end of the bargain, as the Dolphins played spoiler and came away with a 19-17 victory at Sun Life Stadium.
Even with a win, New York would still have failed to qualify as Tennessee's victory against Houston would also have kept the Jets out of the postseason.
The Jets (8-8), who reached the AFC Championship Game each of the last two years, have no one but themselves to blame after finishing the campaign on a three-game losing streak.
"Obviously a tough loss to explain," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
"We have to look at every aspect of our team and ask ourselves 'How can we get better?' And we'll do that because we don't want to be average," said Ryan. "We all know what we are chasing."
Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore capped a 12 1/2-minute drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter and the Miami defense picked off Mark Sanchez on each of New York's next two possessions, leading to a pair of Dan Carpenter field goals that helped seal the outcome.
Sanchez was picked off three times overall and threw his second touchdown pass of the game with 1:15 remaining, but the Dolphins recovered the ensuing onsides kick to complete a nice turnaround after a disastrous 0-7 start.
Miami (6-10) won six of its final nine games and finished 2-1 under interim coach Todd Bowles, who took over after Tony Sparano was fired on December 12.
"Since we started 0-7, I thought the guys came back and fought every step of the way," said Bowles. "The last three weeks have been great for me and for the guys. That's a tough bunch."
The Dolphins trailed 10-6 late in the third quarter and were pinned at their own six following a punt. Quickly facing 3rd-and-9, Moore hit Davone Bess for 17 yards and the Dolphins continued to methodically work their way down the field. The 21-play drive included five more third-down conversions, including a 19-yard Brandon Marshall reception on 3rd-and-13 to end the third quarter.
Moore and Bess later hooked up for 10 yards to set up a first down at the one and the Jets stuffed Miami rookie running back Daniel Thomas twice. But Moore dropped back on third down and eluded a Jets rush before finding Clay in the front left corner of the end zone to give the Dolphins a 13-10 edge with 10:27 remaining.
Sanchez had the Jets near midfield soon after, but was picked off for a second time by Miami defensive lineman Randy Starks. He gained control of the errant throw and rumbled 18 yards to the New York 25, setting up Carpenter's 40-yard kick for a 16-10 lead.
The Jets still had plenty of time with more than seven minutes on the clock and drove to the Miami 10-yard line before Sanchez was intercepted again. Linebacker Marvin Mitchell corralled the poor throw and raced 55 yards the other way, setting up a 44-yard Carpenter field goal that made it a nine-point game with 2:32 remaining.
Miami linebacker Jason Taylor, playing his final game after announcing his retirement earlier this week, appeared to cap his brilliant career with a fumble return for a touchdown. He picked up the loose ball and went 20 yards to the end zone, but the play was reversed and ruled down by contact.
Instead, Sanchez went on to throw a 10-yard TD pass to Patrick Turner to give the Jets a breath of life, but Marshall took it away when he recovered the onsides kick.
It was clearly not a great day for the embattled Sanchez, who has come under fire in his third year. He completed 21-of-32 passes for 207 yards with two TD throws. New York's best pass of the day came from receiver Jeremy Kerley, who hit backup tight end Matt Mulligan for 41 yards to set up New York's first score.
After the Dolphins opened the scoring on their first offensive series with a 44-yard field goal from Carpenter, the Jets countered with a touchdown on their second possession -- aided by a bit of trickery.
A direct snap to Kerley fooled the Dolphins, who left Mulligan all alone. Five plays after the big gain, Sanchez rolled right on 3rd-and-goal from the one and found Dustin Keller open in the back of the end zone for the score.
The Jets failed to take advantage of an Antonio Cromartie interception near midfield, but got the ball back after a Miami punt and marched 69 yards for a 31-yard field goal from Nick Folk to make it 10-3 with 3:39 left in the half.
Brodney Pool picked off Moore at the New York 45 in the final minute, but Sanchez returned the favor when Starks picked off an ill-advised throw to give the Dolphins the ball at the Jets 40. After an incomplete pass, Carpenter drilled a 58-yard field goal into the wind as time expired to send Miami to the locker room down just 10-6.
"Man," Ryan said of Carpenter, "he was tremendous. That gave them some momentum."
The Dolphins played without running back Reggie Bush, who was sidelined with a knee injury and completed his first year in Miami with his first 1,000-yard season. Steve Slaton ran for 55 yards on 11 carries and Thomas had 28 on 12 attempts on Sunday.
Moore, who took over for an injured Chad Henne in October, threw for 135 yards while completing 22-of-32 attempts. Marshall caught five passes for 50 yards and Bess had six receptions for 45.
New York gave up nine points after its three interceptions and finished the season allowing a league-worst 126 points off turnovers...The Jets outgained the Dolphins, 374-210...New York was just 4-of-11 on third down, while Miami finished 8-of-15...The Jets ran for 129 yards, led by LaDainian Tomlinson's 56 on 11 carries...New York receiver Santonio Holmes failed to make a catch and was targeted only once.
01/01 18:52:37 ET