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Jets knock Dolphins out of playoff contention
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Two weeks ago the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots for control of their own postseason destiny with games against lesser division rivals Buffalo and the New York Jets remaining.
The Dolphins, however, lost both and will be watching the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season.
After a shutout loss at Buffalo last week, the Jets put the nail in Miami's coffin on Sunday with a 20-7 victory at Sun Life Stadium.
Geno Smith engineered a pair of second-quarter touchdown drives, scoring on a 7-yard run to put the Jets ahead for good. Smith, benched in the Jets' 23-3 loss to Miami on Dec. 1., completed 17-of-27 passes for 190 yards and ran for 44 yards on 10 carries.
"Getting the win was awesome," Smith said. "I think our entire team played a phenomenal game. I was off in many areas but the team picked me up and it's just good to have guys around me that played so hard even when we knew we weren't going to the playoffs."
Bilal Powell finished with 76 yards on the ground and threw a pass out of the wildcat to set up a Nick Folk field goal that helped seal it for the Jets (8-8), who won consecutive games for the first time this season to finish at .500 for coach Rex Ryan, whose job security has been a topic of conversation all season.
After the game, Jets owner Woody Johnson said Ryan will return for the 2014 season.
"I couldn't be any prouder of this team," Johnson said afterward.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 204 yards with a touchdown on 20-of-40 efficiency, but was picked off three times for Miami (8-8), which has not had a winning season since beating the Jets on the final day of the 2008 campaign for a surprising AFC East title.
"The ball was in our court and we didn't take advantage of our opportunity," Tannehill said.
The Dolphins missed the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 seasons. They began the year 3-0 and had high expectations, but lost their next four and off-field problems soon began with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal that took on a life of its own in early November.
After weathering that storm, Miami beat the Jets on the first day of December to kick-start a three-game winning streak that included a win in the snow at Pittsburgh and a stirring 24-20 triumph over the Patriots. It all fell apart from there.
Miami simply put together an awful performance last week in Buffalo, amassing a total of 103 yards in the 19-0 setback. The Dolphins moved the ball better on Sunday, totaling 296 yards, and opened a 7-0 lead, but sputtered from there and watched the Jets score the final 20 points.
The Jets were in position to build a 10-point lead when Folk lined up for a 35-yard field goal with just under 13 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but the reliable kicker missed for just the third time this season to keep Miami within a touchdown.
Miami couldn't take advantage, reaching midfield before punting the ball away with 9 1/2 minutes remaining and the Jets took more than five minutes off the clock before Folk came through with a 35-yard kick to make it 17-7 with 4:18 left. A Powell halfback option pass to Jeff Cumberland for 30 yards put the Jets in scoring position.
Ed Reed, who saved a potential touchdown in the third quarter with an ankle tackle on Rishard Matthews, intercepted a Tannehill tipped pass on the first play after the kickoff to set up a Folk field goal of 26 yards for a 20-7 advantage with just under three minutes to play.
Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who notched his first career interception last week against Cleveland, came up with his second pick of the game with 90 seconds left to seal the contest.
After a series of punts to start the game, the Dolphins took a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Mike Wallace just over three minutes into the second quarter. Tannehill connected on 5-of-8 throws during the 14- play, 89-yard set and Miami converted a trio of third downs.
The Jets finally answered with 3:20 left in the half, marching 71 yards on 10 plays for the tying score. A 23-yard pass to Santonio Holmes keyed the series and Smith converted 3rd-and-2 from the Miami six with a designed run, setting up defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson's 1-yard touchdown run.
New York got the ball right back after a Miami three-and-out when Matthews dropped a pass that would have resulted in a first down. Smith then directed an 80-yard drive that he finished with a 7-yard touchdown run with just three seconds to play before the intermission.
The Dolphins failed to convert 4th-and-inches near midfield with their first possession of the second half, then marched from their own 10 to the New York 29 with their next series. Milliner, though, knocked away a potential TD pass to Wallace and came up with a diving interception on the next play when Wallace slipped with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
New York finished with 154 yards on the ground and 374 yards of total offense ... Miami lost receiver Brian Hartline in the first quarter with a knee injury. He had two catches for 38 yards before exiting and became the fifth Dolphins receiver with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining Mark Duper, Mark Clayton, Irving Fryar and Brandon Marshall ... Richardson scored for the second time this season ... The Jets and Dolphins have closed the regular season 11 times and New York has now won six of those matchups.
12/29 18:31:31 ET