No Tannehill, no problem: Moore steps in to lead Dolphins to 30-9 rout of Jets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Philbin reminded his Miami Dolphins to forget all the trash talk and shut the New York Jets up on the field.
Boy, did they listen to their coach.
Matt Moore threw a touchdown pass after stepping in for the injured Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins didn't miss a beat, rolling past the New York Jets 30-9 Sunday for their third straight victory.
"We all had a job to do," Philbin said. "We didn't want to turn it into a personal affair. It was a big game and it came at a good time, coming off the bye, a divisional game on the road."
And it kept the surging Dolphins a half-game behind the AFC East-leading New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the Jets dropped to last in the division and headed into their bye-week break with lots of uncertainty.
"To say I never saw this coming is an understatement," coach Rex Ryan said. "This one, no question, is a tough one to accept."
The Jets couldn't get going even with Miami needing to turn to its backup quarterback after Tannehill injured his left knee and quadriceps muscle on a sack by Calvin Pace on the Dolphins' second possession.
Philbin had no immediate word on the severity of the injury, saying Tannehill would be evaluated after the Dolphins arrived home. Moore filled in nicely, finishing 11 of 19 for 131 yards after Tannehill was 2 of 5 for 18 yards.
"It always helps having your backup come in and perform like that," Reggie Bush said, "not missing a beat."
Ryan insisted his team was prepared after having a good week of practice, not distracted by all the back-and-forth chatter. Well, Bush and the Dolphins (4-3) were certainly over it all, but the Jets (3-5) were still going at it after the game.
"It was very satisfying for us, as good as it gets," Bush said. "We wanted to have the opportunity to jump on them early and we accomplished that. Once we got them down early, I thought that was it."
Olivier Vernon recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown and blocked a field goal, and the Dolphins smothered Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense. They were helped by some hideous play by New York, which has lost two straight.
Stung by the loss, a few Jets players were still zinging the Dolphins after the game.
"They're not a very clean team," wide receiver Chaz Schilens said. "They're a little cheap."
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie also called Bush "a punk" who showed "his true colors."
As far as the Dolphins are concerned, they'll take all the shots from their AFC East rivals. After all, they got the win and sent the Jets into a bye-week break searching for answers.
"It feels good to do no more talking and feels even better to back it up," Moore said. "Our special teams put us in great situation to win this, but we were ready as soon as we stepped off the bus."
It showed, as Miami raced to a 20-0 lead by midway through the second quarter, and New York couldn't recover.
Ryan said the Jets would "empty our tanks" as they tried to sweep the Dolphins for the first time in his four seasons as coach. But Sanchez made mistakes throughout, not hitting open receivers at times and not taking care of the football.
He was 28 of 54 for 283 yards with a touchdown and interception, and was done in late in the opening quarter by a fumble on a sack by Nolan Carroll that the Dolphins turned into a touchdown. He also had the Jets driving while trailing 27-3 in the third quarter, but Chris Clemons intercepted a throw intended for Dustin Keller.
That brought out loud boos and some chants for Tim Tebow by the angry crowd at MetLife Stadium, which had a few thousand empty seats, more than likely because of the threats of the approaching Hurricane Sandy.
"Obviously, I'm a big Tebow fan, but I'm not a big fan of screaming to get the backup quarterback in," Keller said. "I feel like fans should have their starting quarterback's back 100 percent until they officially make some type of change."
And that's not coming yet. Ryan said he had no thoughts of switching to Tebow, who had one carry for 2 yards in limited action again.
"I believe in Mark," Ryan said. "I think Mark has proven that he can win in this league. I think he gives us our best chance to win. That's my opinion and that's the one that matters."
After Dan Carpenter kicked a 33-yard field goal less than 4 minutes in, Miami then recovered an onside kick. Although the Dolphins didn't turn it into points, the special teams unit came up big again later in the quarter. Jimmy Wilson blocked Robert Malone's punt and Vernon recovered to make it 10-0.
Sanchez turned it over on the Jets' next possession when he was sacked by Carroll and Paul Soliai recovered the fumble at New York's 32. Moore led a six-play drive capped by Daniel Thomas' 3-yard run to make it 17-0.
Even the one area that had been flawless failed the Jets. Nick Folk's 35-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Vernon; Folk had opened the season 11 for 11.
New York finally got on the scoreboard a few minutes into the second half on Folk's 38-yarder, but the Jets couldn't keep the momentum. Moore connected with Anthony Fasano for a 4-yard touchdown to make it 27-3.
Schilens had a 5-yard touchdown catch with 7:20 left, but the 2-point conversion failed and the Jets had made too many mistakes and fallen too far behind to mount much of a comeback.
"It's time for a bye," Schilens said. "It's time for us to regroup, figure out what we're doing wrong and figure out a way to do it better."
NOTES: Cromartie missed a few plays after dislocating a pinkie early in the first quarter after falling and then getting into it with Bush on the sideline. ... Jets LB Bart Scott had his streak of 119 consecutive games played end because of a toe injury that has bothered him since the last time the teams played in Week 3. ... Former DE Dennis Byrd, briefly paralyzed 20 years ago in a game against Kansas City, became the fifth former Jets player to have his number retired, joining Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Joe Klecko and Curtis Martin.
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