Jets-Dolphins: What we learned

Paul Borden, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The playoff drought continues for the Miami Dolphins.
After putting themselves in position of needing only one win in their last two games to make the NFL's postseason for the first time since 2008, the Dolphins came up dry offensively.
Sunday's 20-7 home loss to the New York Jets following a shutout loss at Buffalo a week earlier left the Dolphins with an 8-8 record -- not good enough to earn the AFC's last playoff spot.
"It's really tough" said Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed half of his 40 pass attempts for 204 yards and his team's only touchdown against the Jets. "The ball was in our court, and we just didn't take advantage of the opportunity."
Coach Rex Ryan looked at it as payback for 2011 when the Dolphins knocked his Jets out of the playoffs with a 19-17 victory.
"Quite honestly, we owed them," said Ryan, who was told prior to the game he would be back next season. "They knocked us out of the playoffs by beating us. But if you look at it, that wasn't our motivation."
What the Jets were looking to do was make up for the disappointing 23-3 loss to the Dolphins the first time the two teams met back on Dec. 1.
"We knew we were a better team than what showed up the last time we played Miami," Ryan said.
The Jets, who also finished 8-8 but were never in the running for a playoff berth, sent Dolphins fans among the Sun Life Stadium crowd of 70,296 home unhappy by scoring 20 unanswered points after Miami opened the scoring on wide receiver Mike Wallace's 5-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
The Jets tied it with a 10-play, 71-yard drive capped by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson's 1-yard touchdown run and then took the lead into the halftime locker room when quarterback Geno Smith scored from 7 yards out on a quarterback draw with just two seconds left in the second quarter.
"Playing well today was awesome," said Smith, who was 17-of-27 passing for 190 yards. "I think our entire team played a phenomenal game."
The Dolphins simply could not get any consistency going on offense.

What the Jets said
"I didn't expect it, but you were hoping for it. You definitely didn't expect it this soon. I think it was just at the right time." -- Wide receiver David Nelson, on the announcement that coach Rex Ryan would be returning next season.

What the Dolphins said
"You have to earn your way into the playoffs. Clearly, we didn't do that. Certainly, that was the objective. I thought we would have played better. I have to start with myself. We didn't play well enough to win and earn a spot in the playoffs. You never back into a great achievement." -- Coach Joe Philbin, on the failure to make the playoffs.

What we learned about the Jets
1. Coach Rex Ryan will be back next season. Team owner Woody Johnson told the coach before the game he would be returning in 2014. Ryan is 40-40 in five seasons with appearances in the AFC title game in each of his first two years.
2. The defense came up with three interceptions, all in the second half, against the Dolphins, but their inability to force fumbles continued. For the seventh consecutive game, the Jets failed to recover an opponent's fumble. In fact, the Jets ended the season with only two recovered fumbles in 16 games.

What we learned about the Dolphins
1. The Dolphins had trouble closing out games this year and ended up having trouble closing out the season. They managed to score only one touchdown in their last eight quarters against the Bills and Jets. The defense hung together, holding the Jets to 374 yards and Buffalo to 390, but the offense generated only 399 yards in the last two games combined.
2. The running game is going to have to improve if the Dolphins are gong to take the next step. They rushed for only 35 yards in the first half and just 92 yards for the game against the Jets. For the season, they averaged 90 yards a game on the ground and had just eight rushing touchdowns. Lamar Miller led in rushing with just 790 yards.