Bush, Dolphins take another shot at Jets
It wouldn't be the New York Jets if there wasn't some chattering going on.
And while the incidents that generated the talking happened more than a month ago, they apparently don't carry any less weight this week when it comes to Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush and Jets safety LaRon Landry.
Those two, along with their collective teams, will meet Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The Jets won the opening round of the 2012 series, 23-20 in Week 3, but it's a game probably best remembered for the season-ending ACL injury sustained by New York's All-Pro cornerback, Darrelle Revis.
Bush was sent to the sidelines in the opening half of the game after a hit from Landry, and though he's since returned to the field, he still bristles when recalling the pre-game remarks in which Jets coach Rex Ryan said his defense was prepared to pour some "hot sauce" on the shifty Southern Cal product.
Miffed by those words, Bush reacted accordingly when informed of Revis's injury, saying it was a case of "what goes around comes around."
Ryan has apologized for his comments and said he anticipates Bush doing the same. However, the second-year Dolphin seemed unlikely to do so this week, instead speaking at length when asked about possible on-field retaliation from the Jets.
"They're the ones who started this," said Bush, who's averaged just 2,8 yards a carry since returning in Week 4. "If there was ever any retaliation, it would come from us. But this team and the caliber of guys and the character we have are guys who play with respect for the game and play hard.
"It's football. I didn't go and complain or whine about being a target of the Jets. I expect that every game. I don't expect for it to be any different this game. I expect it to be a tough game, probably some trash talking going on. It's going to be a physical, tough game."
Landry, who's best known for a hard-hitting style, gave no ground in the war of verbal trash.
"I'm grateful for another opportunity to play this guy, and he will remember that hit," he said. "Every time he sees me, he will remember that hit. Just watch the way he runs. We'll see when he comes out here this Sunday."
Nick Folk's 33-yard field goal gave the Jets a victory in the initial game, but the Jets were dealt a similar overtime blow last week in New England when they lost a 29-26 decision at Gillette Stadium.
The defeat dropped them to 1-3 without Revis and into a two-way tie with Buffalo for last place in the AFC East, albeit just a game back of the 4-3 Patriots. Miami, which was off last week, is alone in second place at 3-3.
"Obviously, this is a critical game," Ryan said. "It is huge, and the fact that we haven't swept Miami (since 2007), it'd be quite an accomplishment. This is going to be a big game."
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who made the tabloids this week for his breakup with actress Eva Longoria, has completed just 49 percent for 682 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in three career home games against the Dolphins, losing twice while being sacked nine times.
He was stellar against the Patriots, however, completing 28 of 41 throws (68.2 percent) for a season-best 328 yards. In weeks 4, 5 and 6, he was completing at just a 48.7 percent rate and had compiled just 415 yards, whipping up the masses eager to see backup Tim Tebow supplant him as the starter.
"I think (the coaches) have plenty of trust in me," Sanchez said. "They're trying to put us in a position to win and calling the best plays we possibly can. We're all in this thing together."
For its part, Miami has won two straight games while holding its last two foes to 27 points.
The Dolphins snatched victory from defeat two weeks ago against St. Louis, which outgained them, 462-192, in Miami's 17-14 win. Bush was stifled by the Rams as well, gaining just 17 yards on 12 rushes.
"One thing I said to the team, part one of the statement was, 'Progress has been made. There's no doubt about it,'" coach Joe Philbin said. "Part two of the statement was, 'There's a heck of a lot of work still left to be done.' I see us playing better football than we were earlier in the season, no question. But we're still not where we need to be."
Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has completed two-thirds of his passes for 839 yards in three games since the loss to the Jets. In Week 3, he was 16- of-36 passing for 196 yards and an interception by Landry, who returned it 18 yards for a touchdown.
New York leads the all-time series, 49-43-1, though the Dolphins have won five of the last eight. Ryan is 3-4 in seven games against Miami since arriving in 2008, while the Week 3 loss was Philbin's first meeting with the Jets.
New York will retire former defensive lineman Dennis Byrd's No. 90 at halftime. Byrd's career was cut short due to a broken vertebra in his neck during a collision in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
All talking aside, the degree to which the Jets can hold the dynamic Bush in check will go a long way toward determining how successful they are in stopping the other weapons in the Miami arsenal.
The Dolphins gashed the Oakland Raiders for 263 rush yards while scoring a season-high 35 points in Week 2, and ran for 185 against the Jets -- including 61 from Bush on 10 pre-injury carries -- in the Week 3 game they'd have won if not for two missed field goals by Dan Carpenter.
Meanwhile, the Jets were 35-9 winners in a Week 6 game in which they held Indianapolis to just 41 ground yards, but were blown out, 34-0, when they gave up 247 on the ground to San Francisco seven days after the Miami win.
Going into Week 3, the Jets looked like the better team. In the time that's elapsed since, Miami has played better and won more, with Tannehill looking more and more like a legitimate NFL passer in spite of his youth.
New York's chances in the rematch depend largely on what version of Sanchez they get, and whether the pre-game nonsense will translate to actual effectiveness when it comes to slowing Bush.
Based on the momentum of the pitched battle with the Patriots and the QB's showing in it, they're a good bet to win a close one at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jets 21, Dolphins 17