You could say the Miami Dolphins put some “hot sauce” on the New York Jets in their 30-9 victory Sunday at Met Life Stadium.
But it might be letting the Jets off lightly. And it'd be disregarding the fact quarterback Ryan Tannehill was injured — and no one is sure how badly he's hurt.
Tannehill said he sustained a hyperextended left knee and a deep bruise to his left thigh when he was sacked by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace during the first quarter. He didn't return to the game.
Tannehill had an X-ray after the game and he'll have a MRI on Monday.
“I'm optimistic about it,” he said. “I was optimistic about getting back in the game and optimistic about getting ready to go for next week.”
Backup quarterback Matt Moore, the team’s MVP last season, filled in admirably, going 11-for-19 passing for 131 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He helped stake the Dolphins to a 20-0 halftime lead that basically won the game.
“It feels good to shut them up after all that talking they were doing during the week,” defensive tackle Randy Starks said.
Although the offense wasn’t spectacular (the Dolphins rushed for just 97 yards) it did enough to win. The defense, on the other hand, was good. They produced four sacks, a fumble and an interception.
Special teams, however, was the star unit. They had a banner day with a blocked punt, blocked field goal attempt, successfully executed onsides kick, three field goals, and a 57-yard kickoff return.
“It was impressive to watch,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
Despite the damper from Tannehill’s injury, this was a joyous butt-kicking for the Dolphins, and it went beyond the confines of the so-called “Hot Sauce Bowl” and the days of trash talk leading up to the game.
This was more like the Dolphins (4-3), who are now on a three-game winning streak, holding the Jets (3-5) down and force-feeding them scotch bonnet peppers until they cried.
Running back Reggie Bush said the Jets “laid down.” Whether or not he’s right the bottom line is the Dolphins were never challenged in a meaningful AFC road game that keeps them afloat for the division title and a wildcard berth.
It was also a monumental victory. Miami is above .500 for the first time since being 7-6 on Dec. 12, 2010.
“We turned this thing completely around from last season starting out 0-7,” said center Mike Pouncey, who delivered the line of the week when he called Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin “a joke.”
“We’re just going to keep looking forward. It’s a bright future for us.”
Embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, ended 28-for-54 passing for 283 yards, one touchdown, a lost fumble and one interception. He was picked off by Dolphins safety Chris Clemons at the 1-yard line in the third quarter when the Jets trailed, 27-3. Not surprisingly, Sanchez was booed by the Jets fans, many of whom were gone by the time the game ended.
The Dolphins kept the crowd out of the game against their most hated rival by scoring on their first possession for a 3-0 lead, and then catching everyone off guard with the onsides kick that linebacker Jason Trusnik recovered.
Miami didn’t score on that possession, but more points were coming. Safety Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt that rookie defensive end Olivier Vernon recovered in the end zone for a 10-0 Dolphins lead.
Then cornerback Nolan Carroll sacked Sanchez and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Paul Soliai recovered at the Jets’ 32-yard line. Running back Daniel Thomas scored to make it 17-0. And Dan Carpenter’s 39-yard field goal delivered the 20-0 lead that was essentially the knockout punch.
Now it’s on to Indianapolis next week. No more Jets, no more trash talk.
“We feel like we put them behind us now,” Starks said. “It’s time to move forward.”