The Miami Dolphins are 0-1 for the first time in 12 years. History suggests they may soon be 0-2 for the first time since 1988.
The Dolphins will try to rebound from a stunning Week 1 loss when they travel to Giants Stadium to play the archrival New York Jets—winners of nine of the last 10 meetings between the teams, including five straight at home.
The mood in South Florida this week has been one of shock and anger following the Dolphins’ 21-20 loss to the second-year Houston Texans last Sunday at Pro Player Stadium.
The Dolphins, touted as a potential Super Bowl team, had won 11 consecutive openers and 17 straight home games in August and September since 1994. They’re below .500 for the first time since the end of 1996.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow for a team like ours that has Super Bowl aspirations,” safety Brock Marion said. “Why did we lose? It’s baffling.”
Among the reasons: Houston stopped Jason Taylor and stymied Ricky Williams, forced three turnovers while committing none and played with more poise in the fourth quarter. Wasted timeouts left the Dolphins without any when they desperately needed one in the final moments. They were flagged for 15 penalties, including four that were declined or offset.
“Dumb stuff,” coach Dave Wannstedt said. “There’s no excuse for it.”
Now Wannstedt’s team gets to play the Jets, who have owned the Dolphins over the last five years. The teams split two games last season, but New York used a 13-10 win at Giants Stadium as a springboard to the AFC East title, a championship won thanks in part to Miami blowing a huge lead in a loss to New England in the final week of the regular season.
The Dolphins have not defeated the Jets at Giants Stadium since 1997.
Miami can take solace in the fact that New York looked even worse in its opener, amassing just 158 yards in a 16-13 loss to the Washington Redskins last Thursday.
Whether it was conservative play-calling by offensive coordinator Paul Hackett or quarterback Vinny Testaverde’s 39-plus years and 21 snaps in the preseason, the Jets struggled in nearly every facet of the West Coast offense.
New York’s defense wasn’t much better, allowing 160 yards on the ground, including 77 by little-known Ladell Betts.
Clearly the matchup of Williams, last year’s league rushing leader, against New York’s porous defense favors Miami—and the Jets know it.
“We definitely want to stop the run,” defensive tackle Jason Ferguson said. ”(Williams) is the No. 1 or 2 back in the league, so we want to get on him early and prove that we can stop the run.”
Williams ran all over the Jets in Week 3 last year, gaining 151 yards in the Dolphins’ 30-3 win. However, the Jets responded to defensive coordinator Ted Cotrell’s adjustments in the rematch, limiting Williams to just 53 yards on 20 carries as New York eked out the three-point win.
“You have to stop the run regardless,” Jets veteran tackle Chester McGlockton said. “You go and play a team like this who relies so heavily on it, if we go in and shut him down, we’ve got a chance to get to the quarterback.”
STANDINGS: Dolphins - 2nd place (tied), AFC East. Jets - 2nd place (tied), AFC East.
DOLPHINS LEADERS: Offense - Jay Fiedler, 227 passing yards and 3 passing TDs; Williams, 69 rushing yards; Chris Chambers, 7 receptions, 118 receiving yards and 2 receiving TDs. Defense - Sammy Knight, 5 tackles.
JETS LEADERS: Offense - Testaverde, 105 passing yards; Curtis Martin, 48 rushing yards; LaMont Jordan, 1 rushing TD; Wayne Chrebet, 4 receptions and 40 receiving yards. Defense - Sam Cowart, 8 tackles; John Abraham and Shaun Ellis, 2 sacks; Donnie Abraham, 1 interception.
DOLPHINS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 86 yards per game (21st in NFL); Passing Offense - 215 ypg (T-16th); Total Offense - 301 ypg (18th). Rushing Defense - 127 ypg (24th); Passing Defense - 266 ypg (30th); Total Defense - 393 ypg (30th).
JETS TEAM RANK: Rushing Offense - 57 ypg (28th); Passing Offense - 101 ypg (31st); Total Offense - 158 ypg (31st). Rushing Defense - 160 ypg (30th); Passing Defense - 167 ypg (9th); Total Defense - 327 ypg (19th).
LAST MEETING: Nov. 10, 2002; Jets, 13-10. At East Rutherford, N.J., John Hall kicked a game-winning 27-yard field goal with 2:17 remaining to help the Jets move within one game of the AFC East lead.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Dolphins - Wannstedt has 31 regular season wins since 2000, third-most in the AFC. … QB Fiedler has a 29-14 (.674) career record, second-best among NFL QBs. … DE Taylor will try to get at least one sack against the Jets for the third straight game. He has 41 1/2 sacks since 2000, most in the AFC and second in the NFL. Jets - New York has outscored Miami 79-28 in the second half of the last three meetings at Giants Stadium. … RB Martin has a touchdown run in 10 of 15 career games against Miami. The 10 TDs are the most by any player against the Dolphins. … WR Chrebet has seven TD catches against the Dolphins, his most against any team.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Dolphins - 0-0 on the road; Jets - 0-0 at home.
INJURIES: Dolphins - OUT: QB Brian Griese (toe). DOUBTFUL: T Mark Dixon (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: CB Sam Madison (ankle); LB Zach Thomas (ribs); S Shawn Wooden (hamstring/hand). PROBABLE: DT Larry Chester (feet); C Seth McKinney (finger); WR James McKnight (toe); DE Adewale Ogunleye (knee); P Mark Royals (hamstring); C Tim Ruddy (knee); RB Williams (ankle). New York Jets: OUT: QB Chad Pennington (wrist). PROBABLE: LB Jason Glenn (ankle).