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Defense, special teams help Dolphins rout Jets

The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Miami Dolphins badly wanted to beat the New York Jets this week, but even the most optimistic and fired-up member of the Dolphins couldn't have imagined delivering a beating this thorough.

Olivier Vernon picked up a blocked punt in the end zone to highlight a dominant performance by the Dolphins' special teams, Miami's defense racked up four sacks and two turnovers, and Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore was effective in place of injured starter Ryan Tannehill in the Dolphins' 30-9 win over the Jets on Sunday at windy MetLife Stadium.

"It was a team victory in every regard. All three phases contributed to the win," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. "There were a lot of positives out there."

The win improved the Dolphins to 4-3 and kept them in the thick of the AFC East and wild-card races. A year ago, the Dolphins lost their first seven games under then-head coach Tony Sparano, who is now the Jets' beleaguered offensive coordinator.

"Huge difference -- completely different team, completely different mentality," Dolphins running back Reggie Bush said. "I think in all phases of the game, we're so much better now than we were last year."

Bush was at the center of the flurry of words between the Jets (3-5) and Dolphins over the past month, and he set an aggressive tone for Miami almost immediately Sunday. Bush, who believed the Jets intentionally tried to hurt him when he suffered a knee injury in the first meeting between the teams Sept. 23, gained 19 yards on the fourth play from scrimmage and then stiff-armed Antonio Cromartie as he was pushed out of bounds.

Cromartie pushed Bush back -- Bush said Cromartie head-butted him -- and was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul. That led to the first of Dan Carpenter's three field goals, and the Dolphins never looked back.

"It was very satisfying. I'm not gonna lie to you and say we didn't think much about it," Bush said. "It was very satisfying to come to the Jets' stadium and jump on them early."

The Dolphins recovered an onside kick following Carpenter's first field goal and extended their lead to 10-0 later in the first quarter when Jimmy Wilson blocked Robert Malone's punt and Vernon picked it up on the bounce in the end zone.

Daniel Thomas' 3-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter was set up when Nolan Carroll sacked and stripped the ball from Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. And in the final minute of the second quarter, Vernon blocked Nick Folk's 33-yard field-goal attempt to keep the Dolphins ahead 20-0.

The Dolphins also showed how a team can win with two quarterbacks on a day in which Sanchez (28-for-54 for 283 yards, one touchdown and one interception) was loudly booed yet Tim Tebow had just one touch on offense. Tebow had a 2-yard run.

Moore, who started 12 games for the Dolphins last year but lost his job when Miami selected Tannehill in the first round of April's draft, replaced Tannehill after the starter suffered knee and quad injuries on a first-quarter sack. Moore was impressively steady (11-for-19, 131 yards, one touchdown) in his first action of the season.

Philbin said Tannehill likely will undergo further testing when the Dolphins return home but had no other update on his status.

"My mindset (when Tannehill got hurt) was, 'All right, let's manage this thing, let's move the ball, don't turn it over,'" Moore said. "Our defense was doing a good job, so that was my mindset."

The Jets lost their second straight as their playoff hopes took a big hit. A subdued coach Rex Ryan said afterward that Sanchez is still the Jets' starting quarterback, even though his struggles led the rapidly thinning crowd to chant for Tebow.

"To say I never saw this coming, that's an understatement," Ryan said. "Had a great week of preparation, a great week of practice. Really thought we were all looking forward to this game. But in this league, you've got to execute, and clearly Miami out-executed us, without question. They made some plays, in particular early in the game, we just couldn't recover (from)."

NOTES: The Jets retired the number of former defensive end Dennis Byrd at halftime. Byrd's career ended when he suffered a fractured vertebra during a game against the Chiefs on Nov. 29, 1992. Byrd was the Jets' "12th Man" Sunday and delivered a rousing pregame speech after the Jets exited the tunnel. ... Jets linebacker Bart Scott's consecutive games played streak ended at 119 when he was inactive because of a toe injury. ... Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby (elbow) exited the game in the first half but returned. Miami defensive tackle Tony McDaniel did not come back after suffering a knee injury. ... The Dolphins improved to 13-10 immediately following a bye and 1-3 when playing the Jets immediately after a bye.
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