Jets come alive, crush Dolphins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There has been plenty of talk in the early going about the New York Jets, and nearly all of it has been negative.
There were even murmurs of a winless season after losses in Buffalo and Oakland to start the year.
For at least one warm day at MetLife Stadium, all was right in the world for the Jets and their fans, as they dominated the weary-looking Miami Dolphins in their home opener, 20-6, in front of an announced crowd of 77,562 on Sunday.
And the talk that this might be the worst team in the NFL? That’s over, for now.
“We don’t pay too much mind to negativity, especially outside of our building,” said wide receiver Robby Anderson, who caught a 69-yard bomb from Josh McCown to give the Jets a 10-0 lead with 1:42 left in the second quarter. “I think we came out this week with a different energy, and a different mindset — that we were gonna dominate.”
The Jets narrowly avoided earning their first shutout since Jan. 3, 2010, a 37-0 win over the Bengals, when Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler hit DeVante Parker with an insignificant touchdown pass as time expired. New York also avoided its first 0-3 start since 2003.
“We corrected a lot of mistakes from last week,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said. “They came out, played hard and played with a lot of passion. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re making progress.”
McCown threw for a season-high 249 yards, Bilal Powell ran for his first touchdown of the season, and Chandler Catanzaro made two field goals to account for the Jets’ scoring.
After getting torched for a league-worst 370 rushing yards through the first two weeks, the Jets held Miami Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi to 16 yards on 11 carries one week after he went for 122 yards and two touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Jets safety Terrence Brooks intercepted a pass on a fake punt in the third quarter and also picked off Cutler in the fourth quarter.
“We always had confidence, we just needed to put the right pieces together and it’s finally starting to mold,” said rookie safety Jamal Adams, who recorded his first career sack. “We’re not where we want to be, but this is the start of something.”
With 7:17 left in the second quarter, the Jets took their first lead of the season when Catanzaro hit a 40-yard field goal to cap a nine-play drive.
Long drives were a staple for the Jets on Sunday, as they dominated in time of possession, 36:08-23:52, and total yards, 336-225, with most of Miami’s coming once the game was decided.
McCown connected with second-year speedster Anderson on a beautifully thrown ball to give the Jets a 10-0 lead. The play was more than double the Jets’ longest offensive play of the season through the first two weeks.
McCown improved to 2-18 in his last 20 starts.
“It’s hard because you do get those numbers attached to you no matter what the situation is,” McCown said.
The Dolphins (1-1) looked like a tired team, and while nobody will make excuses in the NFL, you can’t really blame them.
In the last month, Miami has played preseason games in Philadelphia and Minnesota. The Dolphins had their Week 1 game against Tampa Bay postponed due to Hurricane Irma, and then they practiced in California leading up to last week’s game in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Next week, they have to go to London to play the New Orleans Saints.
Despite the heavy travel, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was in no mood to justify a poor performance.
“They just beat the (stuff) out of us,” Gase said, although he used a saltier word to describe his team’s play. “That’s the best way to put it. We didn’t show up. We didn’t play physical. Offense was just three-and-out, and we didn’t get anything going.”
Cutler finished 26 of 44 for 220 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he had only 75 yards in the first three quarters. The Dolphins were also atrocious on third down (1-for-12) and also failed on three fourth downs without converting one.
“I think that game’s a wake-up call for us,” Cutler said. “I don’t think we can just roll it out there and expect it to happen. We’ve got to be ready each and every game. It doesn’t matter who your opponent is, you can lose each and every week in this league.”
NOTES: Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins started for the Jets after serving a two-game suspension for his 2016 DUI arrest. He made catches on back-to-back plays in the first quarter and finished with five receptions for 31 yards. ... Jets K Chandler Catanzaro missed his first field-goal attempt of the season, a 45-yarder in the first quarter. ... Jets DE Lawrence Thomas lined up as a fullback on a handful of plays, and made a catch for 15 yards. ... Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi was injured on Miami’s second offensive play when he was wrapped up by S Jamal Adams, but he returned on the next series. ... Dolphins DE Cameron Wake recorded his first sack of the season after he had 11.5 in 2016. ... Eighteen penalties were assessed in the game, 10 for 94 yards against the Jets and eight for 51 yards against the Dolphins.