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The Jets needed a lot of help to get into post-season on Sunday, but did very little to help themselves first and foremost, as they lost to the Miami Dolphins 19-17, in Miami.
The Jets finish a very disappointing season at 8-8 (2-6 on the road) and miss out on the sixth and final AFC Wild Card spot. They needed to beat Miami and needed losses from three other teams that were rivaling them for the sixth seed. They finished the season with three consecutive losses that brought them to 8-8 and elimination from playoff contention. Unquestionably it is a big step backward for a team that reached the AFC Championship Game each of the past two years and for a team that had high, Super Bowl aspirations.
After the game in his post-game press conference, Ryan said he doesn’t regret the Super Bowl guarantees he’s made, even though the Jets fell way short this year.
“I’m always going to chase the Super Bowl,” Ryan said. “If you don’t, you’re going to be a loser. You have to have the guts to go for that.”
Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last of which came with the Jets in position to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. The Jets’ defense, which did not perform up anyone’s expectations (especially head coach Rex Ryan’s) throughout the season, gave up six third-down conversions during the Dolphins’ 12-plus minute, 21 play, 94-yard drive that concluded with a touchdown connection between quarterback Matt Moore and fullback Charles Clay for Miami’s only touchdown.
The Jets again were victims of their own mistakes, with each interception leading to a Dolphins field goal. The Jets gave up a league high 126 points off turnovers this season.
The NFL’s active leader in sacks, Jason Taylor, playing his final game, pressured Sanchez into an interception by defensive lineman Randy Starks, his second on the afternoon. Taylor played tailback in the Dolphins’ victory formation as Moore twice took a knee to run out the clock. Taylor, a Dolphin through the majority of his career, actually was a Jet last season, and was bid a classy farewell by his former Jet teammates. Taylor was carried off the field by his Dolphin teammates after the game. It was a rare moment of celebration for Miami (6-10), who completed their third consecutive losing season. It is their longest consecutive losing stretch since the 1960s. Miami fired head coach Tony Sparano after Week 14 and have begun the search for a successor. On a positive note for Miami, the Dlophins did tie a league record with the most wins (six) following a 0-7 start to the season.
Sanchez’s final misfire came at the Miami 10 with 3 minutes left in the game and the Jets trailing 16-10. Marvin Mitchell, who replaced an injured Karlos Dansby in the first half, intercepted a poor pass from Sanchez and returned the pick 55 yards to set up another Dolphins field goal, ultimately, the game’s deciding score.
The Jets then scored with 1:15 to go on a Sanchez 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner. But Miami’s Brandon Marshall recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win.
Just prior to the Turner touchdown was a very interesting dynamic that the Jets had plenty to answer to following the game. Wide Receiver and team captain Santonio Holmes clearly got into a dispute in the team’s huddle and took himself out of the game amidst his frustration on the Jets crucial drive. Cameras showed him on the sideline appearing to be completely uninterested. After the game Holmes said it was a coaching decision that lead to his benching, a notion that Rex Ryan was quick to dispute.
A long and interesting off-season begins.