Sun Sentinel Columnist
3:25 PM PDT, October 28, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –
Everyone up here spent Sunday distracted by Hurricane Sandy.
The Jets, at least, should have been more concerned about the gathering storm that is their AFC East rival.
For just the second time in the last nine years, the Dolphins (4-3) have a winning record after seven games. They had the same mark in 2010 on their way to a 7-9 finish, but this feels different under first-year coach Joe Philbin.
Offense: Losing rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the second offensive possession could have been disastrous. Tannehill never returned from that hyperextended left knee and bruised quadriceps, but 2011 Dolphins MVP Matt Moore stepped in and performed more than capably. Moore went 11 for 19, threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Fasano and finished with no interceptions and a 96.6 passer rating. Reggie Bush rushed for 59 yards, but he delivered his biggest message with an (uncalled) yank of Antonio Cromartie's facemask on his second carry of the game.
Defense: The Dolphins were up 20-0 before the Jets picked up their third first down and held the Jets to 26 total yards on their first 21 offensive snaps. Disregard those seven catches for 82 yards for ex-Dolphins draft bust Clyde Gates. Those came in garbage time, as did pretty much all of Mark Sanchez's production on a four-sack day. Shonn Greene rushed for 77 yards and the Jets had 105 rushing yards, but see Gates explanation above.
Special teams: This doesn't happen to Mike Westhoff-coached units. Yet, there Darren Rizzi's Dolphins were, embarrassing the Jets on a blocked punt by Jimmy Wilson, a blocked field goal by Olivier Vernon, even an onside kick recovered by Jason Trusnik. Vernon, the rookie from the University of Miami, recovered the blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown that made it 10-0 with 11 minutes gone. Wilson also had the last blocked punt by the Dolphins, last season against the Eagles. Dan Carpenter went 3 for 3 on field goals, while Brandon Fields averaged a 46.7-yard net on six punts.
Coaching: The surprise timing of the onside kick was perfect, with Philbin again showing a flair for the sneak attack. On defense, Kevin Coyle dialed up an early corner blitz that resulted in a Wilson sack and had Sanchez on his heels all day.
Turning point: Wilson's blocked punt seemed to jar the Dolphins from their haze after losing Tannehill. That marked the second time in 14 games the Dolphins had scored off a blocked punt. The combination of Chris Clemons and Lex Hilliard did it last year against the Bills.
Second guess: Don't really have one, but Moore might have dropped back to pass a few too many times with the game in hand.
Tannehill take: The rookie showed poise again in the face of his injury. First, he tried valiantly to work out the kinks on the sideline, riding the cycle and simulating dropbacks. He also stayed connected to Moore and the offensive group, giving encouragement and sharing ideas.
Honorable mention: Clemons led both teams with nine tackles from his free safety spot and picked off Sanchez at the goal line in the third quarter. Clemons is now tied with Reshad Jones and Sean Smith for the team lead with two interceptions.
Overall: This was the second-largest margin of victory for the Dolphins on Jets turf. They beat them 43-0 at Shea Stadium on Oct. 19, 1975, when a fading Joe Namath threw six interceptions, three of them to Curtis Johnson. On to Indy.
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