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200 Miles From the Citi


November 2, 2009 5:01 AM

DOLPHINS 30, JETS 25

Can't blame the defense this time. And the offense did its job (in the second half, at least).

If you're pointing fingers, this one falls squarely on the shoulders of the special teams.

Kick returns for touchdowns are terrible. They come after a score (barring the opening of a half), taking away any excitement you just built. But every once in a while they happen. And you move on. Until they happen again.

That's what happened to the Jets on Sunday...and there's really no excuse for it. Yes, Ted Ginn can be explosive in those situations, but on the second kick return, the Jets should have had him at about the 20 - first Larry Izzo whiffed, then someone else flat-out missed him, before he made his moves and bolted 100+ yards for his second return touchdown of the third quarter.

That's why the special teams played the biggest role in dropping the Jets to 4-4.

The defense was very good. They only gave up 9 points (there was a defensive touchdown by Miami in that third quarter as well), and looked like they had the Miami offense figured out...but the Miami offense was not very good either, so take that for what it's worth.

The Jets offense was nothing to shout about either for the first part of the game. Mark Sanchez saw a lot of pressure, and made some pretty bad passes - short-hopping a number of his throws. When they needed to, though, after falling behind in the second half, they again scored seemingly at will on the Dolphins' defense, like they did Monday night in Miami a few weeks ago.

Until the final drive.

Let's stop here to examine two things - 1) the Jets mismanaged their points, and 2) they kind of got jobbed by the refs.

They mismanaged their points because in the third quarter they started chasing 2-point conversions when they didn't need to yet. Kicking an extra point would have left them in the same position at the end of the game that their failed 2-point conversion left them...although I guess it didn't hurt them tremendously either. (I'll add that after the Jets scored following the second kickoff return TD I would have gone with an onsides kick - it would not have been returned for a touchdown like their previous two kickoffs, and the Jets could have recovered. At the very least the Dolphins would have had the ball at midfield instead of in the Jets' end zone...)

The Jets got jobbed because after they scored to make it 24-19 Dolphins, they converted a 2-point play that was negated by an illegal shift penalty. There was no clear violation...though if you held a gun to my head I'll admit that Mark Sanchez took a step backwards while the receiver was in motion, which could have been the shift. (But Phil Simms didn't see it, so if he doesn't call it, who am I to say I saw something.) Anyway, that's a terrible call in front of the home crowd, and it cost the Jets the game, because at the end (after the Dolphins went for a questionable 2-point conversion), the Jets needed a touchdown and couldn't get it on 4th down, when they could have kicked a game-tying (or winning) field goal.

So now the Jets are .500, and really, they're no better than that. But they could have stolen another game and gotten to 5-3, which would have been a whole lot closer to the beneficial playoff experience that I want for Mark Sanchez.

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