No one thought Jets-Dolphins would be a pretty game. Not fans. Not analysts. Not the season ticket holders who left their cushy end zone seats empty for Robby Anderson’s first-half touchdown celebration.
New York, tanking poorly at 3-3, had traveled south to face the NFL’s least-impressive winning team — a Miami club led by Jay Cutler and a passing attack that averaged just 5.1 yards per pass. Despite their limitations, the Jets and Dolphins crafted one of the most entertaining games Week 7 had to offer.
First came Josh McCown looking like prime John Elway, doing something no Jets quarterback had done since the 1960s by throwing for three touchdowns and running for a fourth. Across the field was Cutler, who had his best performance of 2017 despite playing just two quarters. The former Bear left the field with a chest injury and was replaced by Matt Moore, who was similarly competent behind center.
It was Moore who led the Dolphins back from a 28-14 deficit. It was Moore, with the ball at the Jets 41-yard line with 1:16 to play, who stood to save Miami and push them closer to a second straight postseason berth.
And then Moore rolled backward nine yards on a momentum-killing sack to effectively end the Dolphins’ scoring chances. A punt from the 50 would give McCown one more chance to build on his historic day and state his case as one of 2017’s best quarterbacks.
That hope lasted eight seconds. McCown’s first pass was an underthrown wobbler easily corralled by Bobby McCain. Three Jay Ajayi runs — and three New York timeouts — later, Cody Parkey drilled a 39-yard field goal to take a 31-28 lead.
That gave McCown one last chance with 17 seconds to go — a last chance made significantly more difficult by Anderson, who was so furious with the team’s play-calling on its last-chance drive that he ripped his helmet off and bounced it toward the sideline on first down.
That cost New York eight yards, and all that was left for the Jets was to try some lateral magic in hopes of an 92-yard run to the end zone. Instead, they fumbled their second backward pass.
What this means for the Dolphins: Miami, surprisingly, is now 4-2 and tied for first place in the AFC East. They’ll have to wait and see on Cutler’s health, but Moore proved he can be just as effective as the embattled starter after leading the Fins back from the brink of defeat. With primetime games against the Ravens and Raiders looming, Miami will have to make a decision on the future of its offense soon.
What this means for the Jets: New York’s playoff hopes took a hit after losing the rematch to Miami. That’s good news for the team’s aspirations for a high draft pick, though.