Jets can’t get past Dolphins despite Elijah Moore’s big day

Jets Dolphins Week 11 2021
Nov 21, 2021; East Rutherford, N.J., USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) scores a 1st quarter TD against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Forget the fact that they were facing one of the worst offenses and the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The New York Jets still couldn’t muster enough at home against the Miami Dolphins, falling 24-17 on Sunday afternoon to fall to 2-8 on the season.

Head coach Robert Saleh’s peculiar decision to start veteran Joe Flacco — re-acquired just a few weeks ago — rather than Mike White backfired as the Jets were held to 17 points or fewer for the sixth time this season.

Flacco performed well enough in relief, completing 24-of-39 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. But his connection with rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore helped to further suggest that the Jets came away with a big-time playmaker in the second round of the 2021 draft.

The Ole Miss product reeled in eight receptions for 141 yards — more than half of his entire season output entering Week 11 — with a touchdown on 11 targets.

But they couldn’t slow down Tua Tagovailoa, who had an efficient day for the Dolphins by completing 27-of-33 attempts for 273 yards and a pair of scores.

Miami’s offense, which is one of the worst units in the NFL, carved through the Jets’ defense on the opening drive, going 83 yards on 11 plays to provide an unsettling start at MetLife Stadium. Jaylen Waddle finished it off with a one-yard score off a direct snap.

The Jets managed to get rolling later in the first when Ashtyn Davis intercepted Tagovailoa down the right side to give New York the ball in Dolphins territory. 

Michael Carter’s 39-yard run brought the Jets down to the 1-yard-line before Flacco and Co. sputtered — coming up empty on first, second, and third down. Opting to go for it on fourth down, Flacco easily found a wide-open Jamison Crowder on a quick out from two yards out to tie the game. 

Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore (8) is stopped from hauling in a 1st half pass by Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones (24) at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 21, 2021.Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

After forcing a Dolphins punt, the Jets were primed to move in front when they drove down to the Dolphins’ 6-yard-line. But Flacco fumbled it away when he was hit from behind by Brandon Jones, who came off the left edge untouched to pop the ball loose with a hard hit from the blindside. 

It was special teams’ turn for ineptitude to finish out the first half. After Matt Ammendola missed a 55-yard field goal attempt with 1:10 to go, Miami’s Jason Sanders clanged a 32-yard chip shot off the right upright as the half expired. It saved the Jets from the dubious honor of trailing at the half in each of their first 10 games this season.

They would trail shortly after, though, as Tagovailoa hit Mack Hollins for a 65-yard bomb of a touchdown down the left sideline. The second-year quarterback had to scramble to create enough time before stepping up and heaving a rainbow downfield that a wide-open Hollins was waiting for.

The Jets struck back with a big play of their own with 3:10 to go in the third when Flacco hit Moore on an intermediate slant down the middle before the speedster turned on the Jets and meandered down the right sideline for a 62-yard score.

Miami provided a quick response to re-take the lead, however, unleashing a 14-play, 75-yard drive on the very next possession. Tagovailoa picked up his second touchdown pass of the day when he hit Myles Gaskin for a five-yard score with 10:23 to go in the game. 

A quick 3-and-out would doom the Jets as they delivered the ball back to the Dolphins with 8:50 to go in the game and wouldn’t get it back until the loss was clinched.

With a methodical run game, the Dolphins bled 6:53 off the clock and past the two-minute warning to go up two scores after Sanders converted a 24-yard field goal.