Rex Ryan and Jets beat Dolphins in finale, 37-24
Dec. 28, 2014
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — When the woeful New York Jets gave up a 97-yard touchdown run to fall behind by 10 points Sunday, Rex Ryan cursed and hollered and angrily swung his arms and stomped along the sideline.
Nearly 30 minutes remained in the season, and Ryan wasn't done coaching yet.
With a breakout performance by Geno Smith, the Jets rallied to beat the Miami Dolphins 37-24, and Ryan ordered a fake punt with four minutes left that sealed the victory. It left the coach in a jovial mood, even though the comeback probably won't be enough to save his job.
"I think we all expect what's going to happen is going to happen," Ryan said. "I'm not afraid of what lies ahead, I can tell you that."
Smith had his best game in a rocky season, throwing for a career-high 358 yards and three touchdowns. That more than negated a 97-yard run by Lamar Miller, the longest play from scrimmage in Dolphins history.
The game was entertaining but mostly meaningless because it involved two teams out of the playoff chase. And with the Jets sitting out the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, owner Woody Johnson is widely expected to fire Ryan, and perhaps general manager John Idzik.
The Jets (4-12) finished with their worst record since 2007.
"This is a great team — just, we haven't had a great record," Ryan said. "But as far as how you build a team, it's there."
Ryan is 46-50 in six seasons — not including 4-2 in the postseason — but remains popular with his players, and they dumped a bucket of sports drink on him when the game ended.
"We love coach Ryan," Smith said. "I'd love to play for him my entire career."
Ryan continually tried to deflect postgame questions about his future, saying Johnson will talk to him "at the appropriate time." They met briefly after the game.
"I said, 'Hey, boss, I'm going to give the whole team a game ball. Sorry.' And that's exactly what we did. He's good with it," Ryan said.
The Dolphins (8-8) missed a shot at their first winning season since 2008, which is the last time they made the playoffs. Owner Stephen Ross has said coach Joe Philbin will be back for a fourth season in 2015, and he'll have disharmony to address after benching star receiver Mike Wallace for the entire second half.
Wallace was punished for arguing with the coaching staff at halftime. He declined to talk to reporters after the game, and instead had teammate Brandon Gibson speak on his behalf, which made for a bizarre scene as they stood side by side at their lockers.
Why was Gibson doing the talking?
"I just don't want my dog to say anything wrong," Gibson said. "Differences in opinion led to Mike not playing in the second half, so that's what we're going to say about coaches. ... Things that were communicated probably were misunderstood."
The half-empty stadium and also-ran status of the teams created the atmosphere of an exhibition game, and with the stakes modest, Ryan threw in an occasional frill. The Jets ran a reverse out of the wildcat, with receiver Jeremy Kerley throwing incomplete to Smith.
The fake punt came when New York clung to a 27-24 lead. Punter Ryan Quigley lobbed a 38-yard pass to tight end Zach Sudfeld on fourth-and-12.
"Somebody had the guts to call it," Ryan said. "I don't know who, but he's probably standing in front of you."
On the next play, Smith hit Jeff Cumberland with a 23-yard pass for the clinching touchdown.
New York came in ranked last in the NFL in passing, but Smith went 20 of 25 and had a passer rating of 158.3 — the only perfect rating this year by a quarterback throwing at least seven passes, according to STATS. The South Florida native helped the Jets achieve a season-high points total.
Even so, the game might have been Smith's final start for the Jets. They're expected to seek quarterback help in the draft or free agency.
"I have complete confidence in myself," Smith said, "but consistency is the thing that I'm searching for and I'm getting better with."
Eric Decker caught 10 passes for a career-high 221 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown, the longest play by the Jets this year. David Harris had 2½ of the Jets' seven sacks of Ryan Tannehill.
Miller ran for a career-high 178 yards and reached the 1,000-yard milestone for the first time. His touchdown was the longest run allowed by the Jets, and the longest play from scrimmage in the NFL this season.
NOTES: Jets DT Sheldon Richardson left the game in the second quarter with a head injury and didn't return. WR Percy Harvin (ribs) and Pro Bowl C Nick Mangold (ankle) were inactive. ... Miami LB Koa Misi left with a right knee injury in the third quarter. ... Jets QB Michael Vick played for first time since Nov. 24, making a brief appearance in the first quarter. ... Tannehill became the first Miami player since Dan Marino in 1994 to throw for 4,000 yards. Tannehill finished with 392 completions this season to break Marino's 1994 franchise record of 385.
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