MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
In a long and painful season for the Dolphins, they were able to close out the 2011 season in what they hope will be a better year, 2012. If the first day of 2012 is any indication, it’s going to be a great year for the Dolphins as they ended the New York Jets playoff hopes with a 19-17 victory.
Randy Starks turned in a game for the ages as the defensive lineman intercepted QB Mark Sanchez twice, sacked him once, and almost added a third interception later in a dominant performance to help turn the game around.
New York led 10-3 and intercepted Matt Moore just before halftime near midfield. The Jets were looking to increase the lead and possibly put the game away when Starks intercepted a screen pass and gave Miami a chance to kick a 58 yard field goal as the half ended making it 10-6. Near the midway point of the third quarter, the Dolphins received a punt at their own 6 yard line, and after a Miami Dolphins record long drive, took the lead 13-10 on rookie Charles Clay’s 1 yard touchdown reception. When it was all said and done, the drive amassed 21 plays, 94 yards, and 12:29 seconds of game clock. It is the longest drive in terms of plays and time in Dolphins history and featured several converted third downs.
Starks added another interception later in the game, and this time had a clear path to the end zone but Reggie Bush he is not. The not fleet footed lineman instead tripped over his own feet and went down leading to another Dan Carpenter field goal to put Miami up 16-10. The Jets drove again to try and save their season, and got to within the 15 yard line, this time it was backup linebacker Marvin Mitchell’s turn to intercept Sanchez and run it back 55 yards to set up a fourth field goal by Carpenter, this time putting the game out of reach 19-10. Mitchell was in as starting linebacker Karlos Dansby was injured early in the game and did not return.
Jason Taylor, playing in his final NFL game for the Dolphins, almost had a storybook ending to his career when on the ensuing Jet drive, a Jet offensive lineman caught a tipped pass and attempted to run up field with it, he was tackled by Jared Odrick and appeared to fumble the ball, Taylor scooped it up and in his haste to head up field himself, also fumbled the ball but was fortunate enough to have it bounce right back to him and scored a touchdown much to the delight of the Dolphin fans in attendance. The play would be reviewed however, and it showed that the runner was down by contact and the play overturned. It was still a very nice moment for Taylor who was carried off the field by his teammates in his final farewell.
The Jets did score late to make it a litter nerve racking, but on the ensuing onside kick, WR Brandon Marshall was able to corral the ball and end the game for Miami. They finish the year 6-10, winning 9 of their final 9 games on the season. RB Reggie Bush and LT Jake Long did not play in this game due to injury, and WR Davone Bess appeared to suffer a serious knee injury of his own late in the 4th quarter. Details of the injury will not be known until later today.
The Dolphins will flip a coin with the Carolina Panthers to determine who has the 8th and 9th picks in the April 2012 NFL Draft. The date on the coin flip has not been set. We will have season in review articles up later this week and next, as well as look ahead to the draft leading up to the start of round 1 in April. We will also check in with any player or coaching activity through free agency as well as injury updates in mini camps and offseason programs.