Shaun Ellis and the Jets had seen this story play out before.
They dominated the Dolphins offense at home for the second consecutive season, but somehow still came out as the losing team.
“It’s like last year,” Ellis told me before heading off to the showers. “Same performance at home and we still lost the game. We just have to find a way to win it.”
Last season in Week 8, the Jets dropped a 30-25 decision to the Dolphins despite holding the visitors to 104 yards and 10 first downs. Chad Henne had a mostly miserable afternoon, getting sacked six times while completing just 12 of 21 for 112 yards with one touchdown and the vaunted ‘Fins rush attack only amassed 52 yards.
Fast-forward 13-plus months to Week 14 at New Meadowlands Stadium today and the Jets turned in a better effort defensively. The Dolphins, who got all 10 of their points in the first quarter after two Mark Sanchez turnovers in Jets territory, had six first downs and Henne was sacked five times (losing the ball twice) and completed five of 18 passes for 55 yards. The Jets turned them over three times in all and held the visitors to just 101 rush yards on 32 carries.
“We wanted to come back and play better after last week against the Patriots,” said Ellis after the 45-3 rout in Foxboro just six days ago. “I thought we came out and we played together and as a unit. We still have some little things that we have to fix, but overall I thought it was a good defensive effort. We just didn’t get it together as a team.”
In another soaker at NMS, the Jets’ offense left their defense out to dry early. Sanchez attempted to force a ball for Santonio Holmes on third-and-18, but corner Nolan Carroll secured the game’s first pick at the Jets’ 42. The “D” forced a 47-yard Dan Carpenter field goal as the Jets fell behind, 3-0, midway through the opening quarter.
Three offensive plays later, the O-line didn’t hold up and Sanchez was crushed by DE Kendall Langford. The ball came loose and LB Quentin Moses recovered at the plus-26. The Dolphins cashed in from there as Henne and Marshall converted on two third downs — the second of which ended up in the end zone on a 6-yard pass. Bart Scott was close to Marshall, but there was a mistake in coverage and the ‘Fins capitalized.
“They had the two drives when they were in plus territory and they came up with some points. Other than that I thought we played well,” said Ellis, who had one sack. “Yeah, they hit us with a play here or there, but overall I thought we played good on defense. To hold them to 10 points the whole game is good. You’re supposed to win that game.”
Those two scoring drives combined covered 12 plays and 39 yards. But that was it. Of the Dolphins’ 101 rushing yards, 66 came in the opening 30 minutes.
“They got them early, in the first half. I messed up on two of the runs and got knocked off the ball,” said the “Big Katt.” “They guy went in my gap, so I was responsible for at least 20 yards of it. But overall I thought we bounced back and controlled the game.”
Henne appeared flustered for much of the contest and was never the same after OLB Calvin Pace came around the corner and got a free shot on the Dolphins’ passer midway through the second stanza. Sione Pouha, a monster throughout with 10 tackles and one sack, recovered for the home squad at the Miami 38 and that eventually would set up Nick Folk’s first field goal, a 35-yarder.
“I think the Pace hit on him messed him up for the rest of the game,” said Ellis.
Folk added a 42-yarder with 5:26 left in the game, but the Green & White would get nothing else on a day for defense. Next week the D will have to step up its game once again because the Steelers defense will be a tough challenge for a struggling Jets offense.
“We just have to find a way to win the game. We have to find a way to generate some excitement, some momentum that we can carry with us to the playoffs. From here on out, it’s like a one-game season,” said Ellis. “There are a lot of teams doing good right now, and we lost this one and kind of put ourselves behind the eightball a little bit. We just have to go out next week and get a win on the road, in another hostile environment, against another good defense. Our defense has to come ready to play.”
They bounced back Sunday but it wasn’t enough as the 9-4 Jets are on their first losing streak of 2010. There is only one thing they didn’t do against the Dolphins, and CB Antonio Cromartie, who was terrific against Marshall (two catches, 16 yards), mentioned it before departing.
“It’s a great thing to bounce back, but this defense takes a lot pride in what we do and the thing for us is we have to do it on a consistent basis,” Cromartie said. “You can’t do it one week and not do it the next week. We want to make sure we do it on a consistent basis and go out and perform like we know we can perform and play at a high level. That’s all we can really try to do.
“I think we need to try to score on defense more when we have the opportunity.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins, PIttsburgh Steelers, Shaun Ellis
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