The New York Jets’ three-game losing streak is over thanks to last week’s blowout victory, but it would mean a lot more if they can get some revenge against the archrival Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Giants Stadium.
It’s the same venue where the Dolphins secured the AFC East title with a 24-17 victory over the Jets to close the 2008 regular season. New York didn’t fare better in the rematch Oct. 12, losing 31-27.
However, it’s the Dolphins (2-4) who are at the bottom of the division while New York (4-3) is on first-place New England’s heels after a much-needed victory last Sunday.
That 38-0 win in Oakland let the Jets not only snap their skid but regain some confidence. Their defense forced four turnovers and blanked an opponent for the first time in nearly six years despite playing its first game without nose tackle Kris Jenkins(notes), who was lost for the season to a torn ACL the previous week against Buffalo.
“It makes it so easy on the offense when your defense is playing like that,” rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes) said. “Hats off to them, they had a heck of a game to shut that team out. I don’t care who we’re playing, that’s a big-time accomplishment for our team.”
Sanchez, who had thrown five interceptions in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Bills, was just 9 of 15 for 143 yards and a touchdown last Sunday while embattled receiver Braylon Edwards(notes) was held to one catch for 14 yards. Edwards was charged with misdemeanor assault this week stemming from an altercation in Cleveland before he was traded to the Jets.
But the passing game had the pressure relieved as the Jets rolled up more than 300 yards on the ground for the second straight week - the first team to do that since Buffalo in 1975. New York achieved the feat even though running back Leon Washington(notes) suffered a season-ending broken leg early in the game.
While starter Thomas Jones(notes) had 26 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown, perhaps the more impressive performance came from rookie Shonn Greene(notes), who racked up 144 yards and two TDs on 19 carries in his first extended action.
“I just look forward to more opportunities,” Greene said. “I’m not going to fill Leon’s shoes, but I’m going to do the best I can.”
New York has the league’s best rushing offense, averaging 184.9 yards per game, but the Dolphins hold second place in that category (170.3).
“I used to see all those gimmicks when I was coaching back in college,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said of the tactic, blaming his own team’s defense. “I’ve been a part of some bad performances before on defense, just not this bad.”
Even though Miami’s wildcat struggled against New Orleans on Sunday, totaling 30 yards in 14 plays, the Dolphins still had a chance to knock off the unbeaten Saints. Miami was up 21 in the first half and 10 early in the fourth quarter only to allow the final 22 points in a 46-34 loss.
Wide receiver Ted Ginn also struggled, dropping three passes and tipping one of the interceptions.
“We have to have good timing with the wideouts, have to run good routes, and I have to put the ball where it needs to be,” Henne said. “There were some miscues there with me and the wide receivers.”
Henne played much better against the Jets three weeks ago, going 20 for 26 for 241 yards and two touchdowns - one a 53-yarder to Ginn, the No. 9 overall draft pick in 2007.
The Dolphins are trying to avoid a fifth loss, which would equal their total from the entire 2008 regular season. Coach Tony Sparano said his team isn’t thinking about its already dimming hopes of returning to the playoffs.
“When you put yourself in the hole that we put ourselves into, we can’t have those thoughts,” Sparano said. “We just have to think about our next week, and I think right now we have to worry about the Jets and winning a ballgame on the road, and another division game.”
The Dolphins are 2-0 in AFC East games, but they’ll have to move on without starting cornerback Will Allen, who tore his ACL against New Orleans and will miss the rest of the season.
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