Ugly Game Becomes Attractive Upon Last Call

A Miami Dolphin Post Game Piece by Tony Nicoletti.

As the expression goes, "The Boys/Girls always get better looking right around closing time at the bar". So was this night when the Miami Dolphins came to play the New York Jets.

It started out as a sloppy, boring, Monday night game, and the ugly parts are as follows.

Unfortunately, Denver paved the way for subsequent teams to try and use the same, "run heavy" approach that proved to be successful against Miami last week.

As many feared, old Rex Ryan pulled every running gadget play he could think of in the first half to keep the Dolphins reeling. These Jets just happened to already have the 5th best running game in the league, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they would try to employ a similar strategy.

It worked very well for the first two quarters of the game. It helped New York jump out to an early lead with a 20 yard touch down run in the first quarter. By the time the first quarter was half way over, the home team had -2 yards passing, and 102 yards rushing. They also got a 47 yard run during that first half from Chris Johnson a 2009 two thousand yard running back for the Tennessee Titans . (CJ would wind up with 105 yards on 17 carries for the evening, as well).
The Score: NYJETS 7, MIAMI 0.

On the Dolphins second series they moved the ball down field from their own 18 to the Jets 25 yard line, (mostly on Tannehill's passing and his 10 yard run) but Sturgis missed the stalled drives 43 yard field goal attempted wide left.

The Jets followed that up with a successful field goal, early in the second quarter on their third possession of the game. Starting from their own 34 yard line and ending up on Miami's 22 yard line with all of their 9 plays being runs. At that point they had run the ball 12 straight plays and had racked up 152 yards on the ground with 19 yards through the air!
The score: NYJETS 10, MIAMI 0.

After Miami follows with a three and out, NY marches down the field once again, but missed a 48 yard field goal to keep the score at 10 to 0. The drive began on their 6 and ended on the Dolphin 30 yard line. They have run a total of 14 straight running plays and have 205 yards rushing, and Geno Smith has completed 3 of 6 passes for 22 yards.

At the very end of the first half, Miami finally tie's a pink ribbon around a muddy Sow's neck by getting a field goal The drive began on the Dolphins own 38 and was halted on the Jets 25 yard line. Ryan Tannehill did connect on a nice 20 yard pass to tight end Dion Sims during the drive.
The Score: NYJETS 10, MIAMI 3.

Regardless, the stats are looking butt ugly for the visitors over the first half of play. The unsightly first half totals are such.

Time of possession: New York 17:38 to Miami's 12:22.

The Dolphins looked good passing the ball, though:
Tannehill was 15 of 19 (almost a 79% completion percentage) for 128 yards while Geno Smith had the same 3 completions on 6 attempts for 22 yards mentioned earlier.

Miami only ran the ball 3 times for 15 yards. (10 of which were Ryan Tannehill's).
The Jets ran the ball 29 times for 210 yards, the most in a single half of play by any team in the last 5 years!

Fortunately, there were no turn overs by either team in the first half.

During Miami's opening series of the third quarter they marched from their own 25, only to stall on the Jets 26 yard line. The drive ended on a deep pass that Mike Wallace dropped in the end zone. Dolphin running back Lamar Miller had 4 carries for 21 yards on the series which was more yardage than Miami had accrued over the entire first half on the ground. It appeared as though the Dolphin running game might be picking up steam, though they ended up settling for a Sturgis 44 yard field goal.
The Score: NYJETS 10, MIAMI 6.

The Dolphins have been very good at making half time adjustments this season. Especially on offense. Miami is supposed to be the most successful team in the NFL when it comes to scoring in the third quarter. Second half expectations were to see some good offensive adjustments by offensive coordinator Bill Lazor which at this point, seemed to become the case. Miami was moving the ball much better on the ground while Tannehill continued to be effective through the air. The Dolphins now have 162 yards passing and 36 yards rushing.

But what was really most anticipated was to witness the Dolphin defense finding a way to counter the juggernaut that was the Jets rushing attack.

New York's first possession of the second half started on their own 40 yard line because Miami kicker Caleb Sturgis squandered the kickoff out of bounds. Once again the Jets are able to move the ball down the field 33 yards, (this time with the help of a 20 yard Smith pass on a third and 5 play). Miami finally stopped them on a 3rd and 1 at the Dolphin 27 yard line by stuffing a running play for zero yardage, and short of the first down marker. The ball actually came out on the play but the Jets recovered it, and kicked a 45 yard field goal that hit the crossbar, yet still went through the uprights.
The Score: NYJETS 13, MIAMI 6.

Miami gets the ball on their own 22 yard line but go 3 and out. The Dolphins punt it away to New York, and they go 3 and out as well, (for the first time in the game). Dolphin defensive end Dion Jordan partially blocks their punt attempt, it only travels 6 yards before being downed at the Jets 41 yard line, and Miami takes over with the best starting field position they've had all day.

On the first play from scrimmage an under serious duress Tannehill tosses a short pass that was intended for Lamar Miller, but somehow the ball bounces up in the air off of Miller's two palms and is intercepted. New York corner back Darrin Walls catches it and runs it back 25 yards from the Jet 45 yard line to Miami's 30. However, the Jets do not get anywhere on the ground, (for a change) and Smith also gets sacked by Cam Wake on third down for an 8 yard loss. This effectively puts the home team out of field goal range after another three and out!

Miami's subsequent possession takes the game into the fourth quarter when the Dolphins again have to kick it away, after just 5 plays. (So much for Miami being a big third quarter scoring team). But there seems to be a theme developing here, and this is where things start looking good for the visitors.

After 3 quarters of play, Miami has a total of 201 yards, (149 yards passing and 52 yards rushing) while the Jets have 267 total yards, (34 yards passing and 233 yards on the ground). New York has only gotten 23 yards rushing and 12 yards passing during the third quarter.

It seems as though Dolphin defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has also made some effective adjustments to start the second half. He has gone to an 8 or 9 man defensive front when the Jets have shown a single or double running back set, (respectively). It has slowed New York down considerably and forced them to throw the ball more. (Note that all three Dolphin defensive levels are in on this tackle, Wake/Misi/Jones)!

Anyway. Miami manages to pin them deep in their own territory where Geno almost fumbles the ball away at New York's 5 yard line. After a 3 and out they kick the ball from their 4 yard line to their own 49. The Jets commit a 10 yard holding penalty during the kick which gives the Dolphins a second possession starting on the oppositions side of the 50 yard line. This time on the home teams 39 yard line with 12:52 remaining in the game and the score still at 13 to 6 in their favor.

Tannehill does not waste the opportunity and immediately hits Landry on a crossing route over the middle for a 25 yard gain to the Jets 14 yard line. Then Ryan runs for 5 yards, himself. Miller runs for 3 and 2 yards before Tannehill throws an incomplete pass to Gibson. On third and 4, Miller runs it in from 4 yards out to tie it up.
The Score: NYJETS 13, MIAMI 13.

The Jets get the ball back with 10:24 left to play in regulation. They have good field position on their own 39 yard line to start. Geno Smith scrambles twice, the first for 13, and the second for 5 yards. New York managed to work their way down the field on mostly, short running plays, (aside from Johnson's 13 yard scamper). They wind up with a first and 10 on Miami's 22 yard line. Percy Harvin gets 4 yards. Chris Johnson gets -1, and then Smith gets sacked for an 8 yard loss by Miami linebacker Koa Misi, back on the 27 yard line. This lost yardage is just enough for Nick Folk to miss his second field goal on the day. (A 45 yard attempt).

Miami now has the ball back with 5:42 left in the game. The score is tied and momentum has obviously swung their way. From their own 35 yard line they start moving down field. Tannehill connects with tight end Sims on a deep pass of 18 yards, and a short toss that nets 17 yards. Miller runs for 8, 3, 3, -2 yards and has a 5 yard reception to move them to the Jets 8 yard line. Surgis kicks the 26 yard, go ahead field goal with only 1:57 left for the Jets to mount a come back.
The Score: NYJETS 13, MIAMI 16.

Geno Smith starts from his own 20 yard line and completes two passes for 10 and 11 yards, (sandwiching an incomplete pass). He scrambles to get a yard and they have another run for 2 yards. On his 4th passing attempt of the drive, (from his own 44 yard line) he throws deep for Jeff Cumberland at the Miami 30 yard line, but is intercepted by Dolphin safety Rashad Jones!

GAME OVER! This was the least attractive win of the season for our Miami Dolphins. But in the end, they showed some rather attractive attributes.


Tannehill going 25 of 35 for 217 yards and 1 INT. This 71.4 completion percentage is his 5th consecutive 70+% outing (a Miami Dolphin record), and 7th of this season.

Ryan wasn't great in the early going, (though his first half stats showed him completing almost 80 percent of his passes). Meanwhile, he also brought his team back in the fourth quarter in driving them to score 10 unanswered points to win the game.

The Dolphin defense finally closed out a close game with a drive stopping interception and limited the Jets running attack to just 67 yards on 20 attempts in the second half. (After being steam rolled in the first half for 210 yards on 29 carries). A shame that they couldn't make such an adjustment sooner! But Miami did hold the Jets to just 3 points in the second half and scoreless in the fourth quarter.

After 3 attempts in the first half for 15 yards Miami's offense manages to balance their attack in the second half with an additional 59 yards on 15 carries and 10 of 16 passes for 107 yards.

Despite more adjustments and shuffling on the offensive line the Dolphins only allowed two sacks, all game long against a very good Jets defensive front.

Yes. This was a pretty ugly win. A, "Coyote Ugly" affair, at that. (We have all heard how a Coyote will chew a paw off to get out of a trap). Well......after Sturgis missed that first field goal of 43 yards in this trap game, Dolphin Nation was willing to volunteer sticking his kicking foot in such a trap.

Let's just be happy that such a hideous attempt didn't become an omen for uglier things to come and that it isn't always necessary to win so.......pretty.

The 7 - 5 Miami Dolphins are presently the AFC's sixth seed in a six seed playoff chase with the 7 - 5 Baltimore Ravens coming to town!

There are four additional 7 - 5 teams (Chiefs, Steelers, Browns, and Bills) tailgating your favorite team!

San Diego's Chargers are currently the AFC's fifth seed at 8 - 4, and if able to pull even Miami wins the tie-breaker!