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Jets stumble down the stretch, fall to Dolphins

DeVante Parker Dolphins Jets
Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) makes a catch against New York Jets safety Elijah Riley (33) during the first half of the game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Devante Parker with 3:37 to go lifted the Miami Dolphins to a come-from-behind 31-24 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon down in Florida.

Trailing 17-10 at halftime, the Dolphins (7-7) rattled off 14-straight points before the Jets (3-11) tied it up with 7:45 to go in the game after Brandin Echols’ 20-yard pick-six of Tagovailoa.

Neither quarterback had sterling days as Tagovailoa completed 16-of-27 passes for 196 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.

But Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson’s promising day ended with an all-too-familiar feeling of disappointment.

After completing 9-of-14 attempts in the first half, Wilson went 3-for-9 in a scoreless second half while constantly scrambling for safety as the Jets’ offensive line offered little protection.

The Jets cashed in on their opening drive of the afternoon to take an immediate lead. Wilson went 5-for-5 for 55 yards on the 10-play, 83-yard march that ended with Braxton Berrios sneaking home a two-yard rush for the score.

They had the ball back one play later when Tagovailoa badly overthrew his tight end, Mike Gesicki, and was intercepted by Ashtyn Davis, who returned it 15 yards to give the Jets possession at Miami’s 25-yard-line.

The Jets got down to the nine before the drive stalled, leading to an Eddy Piniero 27-yard field goal to put Gang Green up 10.

Miami finally found its legs on a drive spanning between the first and second quarters — an eight-play, 68-yard march that ended with a Duke Johnson one-yard score with 13:42 remaining in the half.

In an unlikely fashion, the Jets managed to come up with a response to re-open a 10-point lead when Zach Wilson snuck in from one yard out. It wasn’t the highlight play of the drive, though, as he had to evade the Dolphins’ defense after receiving a lateral pass from Berrios on a reverse before completing a short pass to tight end Ryan Griffin that went for 23 yards deep into Miami territory.

While the Dolphins answered with a field goal, the Jets still had a touchdown lead heading into the second half.

The lead was gone upon the Dolphins’ first drive of the third quarter, which went eight plays for 78 yards in just 3:36. Johnson picked up his second touchdown of the day, this time getting pushed in from six yards out, to tie things up with 5:16 gone in the quarter.

During that drive, the Jets lost safety Elijah Riley for the game after suffering a scary neck injury that forced him to be strapped down and carted off the field on a stretcher.

Miami took the lead just 37 seconds into the fourth quarter when Tagovailoa connected with defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, who was reported eligible for the goal-line package, for a one-yard score.

The Jets’ nosedive continued on the ensuing drive when Wilson was sacked and fumbled it away after driving down to the Dolphins’ 31-yard-line.

Luckily for them, the Dolphins gave it right back when a punt gone wrong resulted in Sheldon Rankins recovering a fumble at the Dolphins’ 45.

Following a Jets punt, Echols came up with the largest play of his young career when he cut in front of Tagovailoa’s short pass to the left, picked it off, and returned it 20 yards for the score to tie it up with 7:45 to go.

After Parker’s game-winner, the Jets offense could not move the ball as they went out with a whimper. Wilson’s offense gained just 12 total yards on their final two drives; one ending with a punt and the other with a turnover on downs.

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