It took 5 seasons, but the Dolphins finally beat the Jets at home. The Dolphins had been manhandled at home since 2011, but now Hard Rock Stadium is considerably louder and more of a home field advantage than it has ever been.
The Miami Dolphins, winners of three and a row, found a way to beat the Jets.
With the win, the Dolphins are 4-4, but now more importantly 2-1 in the division.
A 2-1 record in the AFC East will be debated all week as the Dolphins make preparations for there next two opponents in Southern California-first the Chargers then the Rams. Two road games, that with two wins place the Dolphins in the conversation of the ever elusive playoffs.
However, today’s Dolphins win was more about faith and toughness than straight up dominant football.
To beat the Jets, the Dolphins had to win their one on one battles and while Byron Maxwell had issues all day with former Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall, where earning a pass interference call, was the best form of defense; Marshall finished with six receptions for 45 yards.
While Ryan Tannehill was sharp on short passes, including a Dominique Jones one-yard TD, he threw for 145 yards and sacked once. Tannehill was not the difference in the game, but played steady throughout the contest.
What’s more, running back Jay Ajayi eventually got going after rushing for -8 yards and had to grind out 24 carries for 111 yards, the game high for a running back and a 20 yard TD that put the Dolphins on the board. In the end, it’s amazing that Ajayi was able to gain significant yards facing the league’s number one defense versus the run.
In all, the Dolphins win was almost in doubt leading 20-16 with several stops until the Dolphins punted with eight minutes to go and Matt Darr dropped the punt for a loss of down and the Dolphins gave the Jets the ball inside the 20.
Two plays later on a Jets drive, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found rookie Jalin Marshall for a TD, to take the lead 23-20.
However, the Dolphins were not done and far from finished. With just over five minutes to go, on the second kick by the Jets since the first one featured an offside call, rookie Kenyan Drake took the punt through the middle of the field and past the kicker for a game breaking 96 yard touchdown return.
With a 4th and 14 and the clock north of two minutes, the Dolphins defense held the Jets forcing the conservative, in my opinion, punt leading to a big 20 yard run by Ajayi who carried the ball past the sticks and near the Jets twenty.
The difference in the game clearly was the kickoff return by Drake and second chance to do something on special teams, but rather the kick return for a TD was vindication and perhaps redemptive after Darr’s earlier gaffe.
Yes, these newly coached Dolphins are 4-4 and how much farther than can go this season is anyone’s guess.
Next up is the San Diego Chargers who defeated the Dolphins handily and in a meaningless contest without a healthy Cam Wake and a lack of offensive continuity.
This time next week, the Dolphins seek their fourth win in a row and a chance of going 5-4.
Both teams are fighting for playoff contention, but the Dolphins have the most to lose as they are 4-1 in the AFC and 2-1 in the division.