The Miami Dolphins needed to come back from an ugly start and another late hiccup against the bottom half of the New York Jets, but they continued their winning ways and kept their playoff hopes alive.
The Dolphins brushed off an uneven performance from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, ran a season-high 184 yards behind hometown hero Duke Johnson and edged the Jets, 31-24, on Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami (7–7) extended their winning streak to six games, eventually returning to .500 from 1–7 in late October. The Dolphins cannot finish more than 15 weeks behind any AFC wild card team, with games at the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans and a home finish against the New England Patriots on tap.
With a win over the Jets (3–11), the Dolphins took the season off an AFC East rival. He has won eight of the last nine meetings with New York. The winning streak in six matches is their first since 2016.
Johnson, a Miami Garden native and Miami Hurricanes all-time leading sprinter, finished the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and the first by any Dolphins this season with 22 carries, two touchdowns, and 107 yards on a 20-yard run . Welcome.
Tagovailoa was 16 off 27 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, which made the final minutes interesting after Miami rolled late in Sunday’s game.
Tagovailoa’s short pass outside, trying to preserve the touchdown lead with less than 8 minutes left, was intercepted by Jets cornerback Brandin Echols and returned for a touchdown from 20 yards, which ended the game on 24. tied up.
The Dolphins offense responded, mostly on the ground behind Johnson and a 30-yard run by Miles Gaskin, who finished with 54 rushing yards. Tagovailoa slanted an 11-yard touchdown to DeVante Parker to give Miami a 31-24 touchdown lead, with 3:37 to spare.
Miami upset the Jets on their last chance. Jets rookie quarterback Zack Wilson finished 13 of 23 for 170 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and what could be the first of many meetings for him against the Dolphins.
After going 10-0 and 17-7 in the first half, the Dolphins took their first lead early Sunday in the fourth quarter when defensive tackle Christian Wilkins hit a fullback on the goal line as a 1-yard touchdown pass passed flat. Caught. Leading to a wild celebration where they leap into the stands and perform a variety of dances in the end zone.
It was a run of 17 unanswered points before Tagovailoa’s pick-six.
The Dolphins tied the Jets for 17 on Johnson’s second touchdown, falling early in the third quarter to a 6-yard middle. Tagovailoa had 20-yard pass plays for Johnson and Mike Gesicki had the end before the score.
The Dolphins dug themselves into the 10-0 opening hole until the 4:30 mark of the first quarter. Former University of Miami wide receiver Braxton Berios scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown on the sweep pitch to cap the Jets’ opening drive, where Wilson started 5 for 55 yards.
Tagovailoa was stopped on the next play from scrimmage by Jets safety Ashtin Davis, hurling Parker out into the open under traffic, which ended in the thick of the pass. With short field, New York settled for a field goal from Miami native kicker Eddie Pinero.
Miami had an immediate chance to react with wide receiver Albert Wilson, who opened under the left bank, but Tagovailoa overtook him, allowing cornerback Brandin Echols to catch Wilson and break the pass.
Nevertheless, the Dolphins scored a touchdown on their following possession. Tagovailoa threw a deep corner to Parker who went for 37 yards and set up Miami from close, 10-7, before Johnson’s 1-yard rushing touchdown to cut the deficit.
The Jets, looking to play spoilers on Sunday, went deep into their moves in the first half. Wilson found the tight end to Ryan Griffin for 23 yards on a play, where he bowled the ball to Berios, before Berios threw it back to Wilson from a forward pass. This led to Wilson’s 1-yard rushing score.
New York took the third and -15 of the second quarter on a crossing route to convert Jamison Crowder and Long Lateral to Berios. Before the Jets’ first-quarter field goal, he tried to go back from receiver Keelan Cole to quarterback Wilson that defensive lineman Zack Seeler cautiously displaced from his blocker to cover and deflect with his back.
Miami, concerned about Wilson’s mobility, admitted Sunday. He rocked defenders on several occasions, but was surrounded by a nearby crowd of Dolphins in the second half. Jerome Baker had a pair of sacks, Zack Seeler was a strip-sack that led to Emmanuel Ogba’s fumble, Ogba had a sack with Brandon Jones and Andrew Van Ginkel.
The Dolphins next play Monday Night Football at the New Orleans Saints on December 27, with three games remaining in the regular season.