Jets takeaways from Sunday’s 11-6 loss to Dolphins, including more struggles on offense

Jan 8, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (23) runs the ball as New York Jets safety Jordan Whitehead (3) pressures during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium.
Jan 8, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jeff Wilson Jr. (23) runs the ball as New York Jets safety Jordan Whitehead (3) pressures during the second quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. / Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

While the Dolphins desperately needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, this game was essentially meaningless for the Jets. However, they were keen to play the spoiler role, end the season on a positive note and put a stop to their five-game losing streak.

With Joe Flacco facing off against Skylar Thompson due to injuries, both offenses struggled in a low-scoring and tense affair that was tied at 6-6 deep into the fourth quarter. Jason Sanders kicked the Dolphins into the postseason with the game-winning field goal in the dying seconds, and a last-play safety tacked on two more points.

For the Jets, Garrett Wilson closed out his regular season with an impressive 100-yard game to further bolster his offensive rookie of the year credentials. The Jets ended the season with six straight losses and no touchdowns in their final three games.

Here are the key takeaways…

- In a meaningless game, the last thing the Jets needed was an injury to a key player that could impact on their plans for next season, so it was concerning to see CJ Mosley go down in the first quarter and Sauce Gardner go down making a tackle in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, both returned shortly afterward so neither injury was serious, although Gardner did leave the game again briefly down the stretch.

- With two third-string quarterbacks going head-to-head and some key offensive linemen out on both teams, it’s hardly surprising both teams got off to a slow start offensively. Miami came closest to putting up points in a scoreless first quarter when they went for it on fourth down in Jets territory, but rookie Jermaine Johnson’s pressure helped force an incompletion.

- One Jet who has struggled in recent weeks is punter Braden Mann, but he got off to a good start by putting a punt out of bounds inside the two-yard line. That was arguably the Jets’ best highlight of the first quarter speaks volumes.

- The Jets almost opened the scoring in the second quarter but Greg Zuerlein narrowly missed a 55-yard field goal. That’s the second week in a row he has missed a long one to set up the opposing team with good field position. Sometimes having a kicker who can do this can be a poisoned chalice because it compels you to take that risk rather than play the field position game as you otherwise would.

- The Dolphins, who also had to deal with in-game injuries to leading rusher Raheem Mostert and leading receiver Tyreek Hill, cashed in the good field position to get into field goal range and take a 3-0 lead late in the half.

- The Jets’ best drive of the half saw them get into the red zone with the key play coming on a spectacular catch and run by Wilson for 36 yards. Zuerlein’s 32-yard field goal was good to tie the score.

- With three starters out on the offensive line, Flacco predictably had to deal with plenty of pressure and the Jets were unable to get anything going in the running game. Their three running backs were held to just 15 yards on 10 carries in the first half and 38 yards overall. To their credit, though, the Jets somehow didn’t allow a sack.

- Miami’s running game took over on their first drive of the third quarter as they took over eight minutes off the clock to grab the lead on Sanders’ second field goal. The Jets missed multiple tackles on the drive as the difference between Miami battling for their postseason lives and the Jets playing out the season seemed apparent.

- The Jets moved into scoring range at the start of the fourth quarter on a drive where Wilson had five first-down catches in the first eight plays, although one was negated by an offensive penalty. Zuerlein’s 35-yard field goal to tie the score with 12 minutes left was good. It has been impressive to see Wilson develop into a true go-to guy over the course of the season.

The key play on Miami’s last drive was an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Quincy Williams for a horse-collar tackle. That moved Miami into range for the potential game-winning field goal. Williams atoned with a big hit a few plays later to force a longer attempt but Sanders nailed the game-winner with 18 seconds to go from 50 yards.

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