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Jets downed by Dolphins, QB Smith benched

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a convincing victory Sunday afternoon, the Miami Dolphins remain in the playoff conversation. For the New York Jets, the season - regardless of how they choose to break down the remaining four games - is all but over.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and a pair of touchdown passes and the Dolphins manhandled the Jets in a 23-3 win at MetLife Stadium.

"We talked earlier in the week about making this a one-game season and focusing on the game at hand and all the other stuff would take care of itself," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. "Our focus was good (Sunday)."

With the win, the Dolphins (6-6) moved into a tie for the final AFC wild card spot with Baltimore. The Ravens have the tiebreaker over Miami by virtue of a 26-23 win on Oct. 6.

"We want to play meaningful games in December," said Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline, who led Miami with nine catches for 127 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown. "This league's about winning championships, but first you've got to put yourself in position to contend for them. We want to stay in contention to be in the playoffs, so that's our goal right now."

Contending seemed to be a reasonable goal two weeks ago for the Jets, whose 5-4 record through 10 weeks gave them sole possession of the second wild card. But the Jets have lost their last three games, a stretch in which they've been outscored 79-20, and are all but certain to miss the playoffs for a third straight season.

The Jets are only a game behind the Ravens and Dolphins but have suffered head-to-head losses to both clubs, as well as to fellow 5-7 teams Tennessee and Pittsburgh.

"We just haven't been able to get anything going the last three weeks - we haven't done anything offensively," Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. "And then on defense we've been kind of up and down."

With the Jets down 6-0 at the half and receiving the kickoff to open the third quarter, Ryan tried to generate a spark by benching beleaguered rookie quarterback Geno Smith - who was 4-of-10 for 29 yards in the first two quarters - in favor of undrafted first-year player Matt Simms.

A similar move by Ryan worked 52 weeks ago Sunday, when Greg McElroy relieved Mark Sanchez in the third quarter and directed the Jets to the only touchdown of the game in a 7-6 win over Arizona.

But history would not repeat itself for the Jets. Simms (9-of-18 for 79 yards) was passable in relief but directed the Jets to just three points while the Jets' struggling secondary finally snapped in the third quarter, when Tannehill hooked up for touchdowns with Hartline and Mike Wallace (28 yards) on consecutives series.

Hartline took a slant from Tannehill and broke numerous tackles in extending the Dolphins' lead to 13-0. After Nick Folk's 20-yard field goal, Wallace took a short pass from Tannehill, eluded rookie cornerback Dee Milliner and went untouched into the end zone.

"When your receivers are making plays like that, it makes playing quarterback a lot easier," Tannehill said.

While the third quarter was nightmarish for the Jets - Milliner was benched, the third time this season he's been yanked in the middle of a game - it was a therapeutic one for the Dolphins, who moved into Jets territory on all six of their first half drives and outgained the Jets 265-39 yet had just two Caleb Sturgis field goals to show for their dominance.

Tannehill threw incompletions as the Dolphins went for the first down instead of punting on fourth-and-1 from the Jets' 44-yard-line late in the first quarter and instead of kicking a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Jets' one at the two-minute warning.

"We liked the way we were playing the game (in the first half) - we were playing fast, the tempo was good, the guys were into the game," Philbin said. "We had a good feeling in the locker room. We had a good feeling on the field."

Tannehill finished 28-of-43 with an interception in the fifth 300-yard game of his career. Wallace had seven catches for 82 yards and tight end Charles Clay added seven receptions for 80 yards for the Dolphins, who ended up outgaining the Jets 453-177.

Running back Chris Ivory rushed for 61 yards on 12 carries for the Jets. Ryan wouldn't say afterward who would start at quarterback for the Jets next week but didn't rule out turning to 35-year-old third-stringer David Garrard, who hasn't taken a regular season snap since 2010.

NOTES: The Dolphins placed OT Jonathan Martin on the non-football injury list on Saturday. The transaction means Martin - who left the team on Oct. 28, alleging he was harassed by teammate Richie Incognito - will not play again this season. To replace Martin on the active roster, the Dolphins promoted S D.J. Campbell from the practice squad. Incognito remains suspended with pay. ... Jets WR Josh Cribbs, who also serves as the Jets' kickoff and punt returner as well as their quarterback in the Wildcat, left in the first half with a shoulder injury. ... Jets DT Damon Harrison was helped off the field after the Dolphins' first play of the third quarter. ... WR Jeremy Kerley (dislocated left elbow) and LB Garrett McIntyre (knee) each missed their third straight game for the Jets. Kerley warmed up beforehand but wasn't cleared to play. ... This year is the second time since the NFL went to the eight-division, two wild card format in 2002 that a wild card leader has been under .500 after 11 games. In 2004, St. Louis and the New York Giants shared the second NFC wild card spot with 5-6 records.
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