Dolphins Knock Jets Out of Playoff Race, 19-17

Jason Taylor was carried off the field after his final NFL game

By Steven Wine
|  Sunday, Jan 1, 2012  |  Updated 4:46 PM EDT
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Defensive end Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins celebrates the Dolphins' 19-17 win against the New York Jets at Sun Life Stadium Sunday, in the final game of his career.

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(AP) — The New York Jets will sit out the playoffs, and that's guaranteed.

The Jets failed to fulfill coach Rex Ryan's pledge to win a Super Bowl title, with Sunday's 19-17 loss at Miami eliminating them from the chase for an AFC wild card berth.

Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last coming with the Jets threatening to take a late lead. They gave up six third-down conversions during the Dolphins' 21-play, 94-yard drive for their only touchdown.

The Jets (8-8) came into the game needing a win along with losses by three other teams to reach the playoffs. Instead they finished the season with three consecutive defeats, a big step backward for a team that reached the AFC Championship Game each of the past two years.

The Jets again were victims of their own mistakes, with each interception leading to a field goal. They gave up 126 points off turnovers this year, the most in the NFL.

NFL active sacks leader Jason Taylor, playing his final game, harried Sanchez into an interception and was carried off the field after the game. It was a rare moment of celebration for the Dolphins (6-10), who completed their third consecutive losing season, their longest such stretch since the 1960s. They fired coach Tony Sparano on Dec. 12 and have begun the search for a successor.

Sanchez's final misfire came at the Miami 10 with 3 minutes left and the Jets trailing 16-10. Reserve linebacker Marvin Mitchell stepped in front of intended receiver Shonn Greene and rumbled 55 yards to set up a field goal.

The 305-pound Starks came away with two interceptions.

Taylor, who said Wednesday he would retire at the end of his 15th NFL season, sent the crowd into pandemonium when he scooped up a fumble and scored with 2½ minutes left. However, a replay review negated the turnover, with the officials determining the ball carrier was down before the fumble.

The Jets then scored with 1:15 to go on Sanchez's 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner, but Miami's Brandon Marshall recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win. Taylor played tailback in the Dolphins' victory formation as quarterback Matt Moore twice took a knee to run out the clock.

The Dolphins took the lead for good in the fourth quarter with a drive that took 12 minutes and 29 seconds. Moore threw completions to convert all six third downs during the sequence, including on the final play when he hit Charles Clay with a 1-yard touchdown pass.

The drive set franchise records for the number of plays and time of possession.

Otherwise the Dolphins' offense sputtered without 1,000-yard rusher Reggie Bush, who sat out with a right knee injury. Dan Carpenter compensated with field goals of 44, 58, 40 and 44 yards.

Trickery paid off early for the Jets when rookie receiver Jeremy Kerley took the snap from the wildcat and threw to a wide-open Dustin Keller for 41 yards. Three plays later, Keller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to put the Jets up 7-3.

Otherwise, Sanchez and his offense sputtered, while the Dolphins looked dismal at times, too. The nadir occurred during an unsightly drive in the second quarter, when the Jets committed four false start penalties while Miami had two 5-yard penalties. The merciful ending came with a New York field goal.

There was another comedy of errors in the final minute of the second quarter, when the teams traded interceptions 16 seconds apart. The second takeaway, by Starks, set up Carpenter's 58-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

The stands were perhaps half-full, reflecting the disenchantment of Dolphins fans. Owner Stephen Ross drew jeers when he honored Taylor during a pregame ceremony, and a small plane overhead tugged a banner that called for the firing of general manager Jeff Ireland.

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