A blocked punt in the end zone, a lost fumble on a sack, and falling asleep on a Dolphins onside kick. And that was just in the first quarter Sunday for the New York Jets (3–5) who were embarrassed at home 30–9 by the Miami Dolphins (4–3) in a game that was over early.
“To say we never saw this coming, that’s an understatement,” said a subdued Ryan afterward, according to the Jets website. “They made some plays, in particular early in the game, and we just couldn’t recover.”
Most of the plays Ryan referred to happened in the first 14 minutes of the game and were compounded by the fact that the Jets offense had plenty of trouble moving the ball.
Mark Sanchez in particular had a rough game again, though he was able to engineer a couple of late fourth-quarter no-huddle drives with the Jets down multiple scores. The fourth-year quarterback finished 28-for-54 passing for 283 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
“I believe in all of our players and I believe in Mark. I think Mark has proven that he can win in this league,” said Ryan, who has continued to stay with Sanchez despite the team’s trade for Tebow. “I just think he gives us our best chance to win. That’s my opinion and that’s the one that matters.”
Sanchez and the anemic offense totaled just 27 yards on 10 plays in the opening stanza, as the more than 79,000 in attendance booed the team roundly after the quarter ended with Miami up double digits and looking for more.
Miami started the game with a field goal, then surprised the Jets with an onside kick and recovered it. Fortunately the Jets defense, which has had a bend-but-don’t-break mentality since All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was lost for the season, held strong and forced the Dolphins into a quick three-and-out.
The Jets though returned the favor with a quick three-and-out of their own. Then after the teams traded punts the Jets finally broke through with a first down of their own, though they were eventually forced into a punt at their own 20. The punt never made its way down the field, however, as Miami cornerback Jimmy Wilson was able to block it and teammate Olivier Vernon recovered in the end zone to make it 10–0.
Then on the fourth play of the Jets ensuing possession, Sanchez was hit and stripped of the ball by Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll whose teammate Paul Soliai recovered it. Six plays later running back Daniel Thomas ran it in from three yards out to make it 17–0 Dolphins—less than a minute into the second quarter.
Though the score was not a death sentence with that much time left, scoring points hasn’t always come easy for the Jets this season—Sunday was no exception.
The Jets offense, led by the embattled Sanchez, engineered three straight three-and-out possessions to start the second quarter. Finally with just over two minutes left before halftime and Ryan’s bunch now down 20–0 and the offense in hurry-up mode, Sanchez drove the team into Dolphin territory for the first time in the game, though they had to settle for a field goal—which Miami blocked.
The Jets finally got on the board with a field goal to start the second half. Miami responded with a touchdown as quarterback Matt Moore found Anthony Fasano for a four-yard score to make it 27–3.
Though the Jets finally found the end zone in the fourth, the game had long since been decided.
With the loss—their fourth in five games—the Jets are now in sole possession of last place in the AFC East headed into their bye week before heading off to Seattle.
“We’ll roll our sleeves up and we’ll find a way to get it done,” said Ryan.