Sanchez interceptions kill Jets' playoff hopes - NBC Sports

Sanchez interceptions kill Jets' playoff hopes
Quarterback throws three, including one from the 9-yard-line, in defeat to Dolphins
January 2, 2012, 1:01 am

The New York Jets will sit out the playoffs, and that's guaranteed.

The Jets failed to fulfill coach Rex Ryan's pledge to win a Super Bowl title, with Sunday's 19-17 loss at Miami eliminating them from the chase for an AFC wild-card berth.

Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last coming with the Jets threatening to take a late lead. They gave up six third-down conversions during the Dolphins' 21-play, 94-yard drive for their only touchdown.

The Jets (8-8) came into the game needing a win along with losses by three other teams to reach the playoffs. Instead, they finished the season with three consecutive defeats, a big step backward for a team that reached the AFC championship game each of the past two years.

Ryan said he didn't regret his guarantee, even if the Jets fell way short.

"I'm always going to chase the Super Bowl," Ryan said. "If you don't, you're going to be a loser. You have to have the guts to go for that."

NFL active sacks leader Jason Taylor, playing his final game, harried Sanchez into an interception and was carried off the field after the game. It was a rare moment of celebration for the Dolphins (6-10), who completed their third consecutive losing season, their longest such stretch since the 1960s. They fired coach Tony Sparano on Dec. 12 and have begun the search for a successor.

"Obviously we wanted more Ws," quarterback Matt Moore said. "It's a time to learn from, and there were a lot of mistakes to go back and correct. But there are a lot of positive things as well. It's hard not to feel good after a win, especially against the Jets."

Another small consolation: Miami has tied the NFL record for most wins after a 0-7 start.

The 305-pound Starks came away with two interceptions.

"The interceptions obviously were backbreakers," Ryan said.

Taylor, who said Wednesday he would retire at the end of his 15th NFL season, sent the crowd into pandemonium when he scooped up a fumble and scored with 2« minutes left. However, a replay review negated the turnover, with the officials determining the ball carrier was down before the fumble.

The Jets then scored with 1:15 to go on Sanchez's 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner, but Miami's Brandon Marshall recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win. Taylor played tailback in the Dolphins' victory formation as Moore twice took a knee to run out the clock.

"It was a good way to end this thing - to beat your No. 1 rivals in your home stadium in your last game," Taylor said during an emotional postgame news conference. "I can't complain. I'm very, very happy and blessed to be where I am."

The Dolphins took the lead for good in the fourth quarter with a drive that took 12 minutes and 29 seconds. Moore threw completions to convert all six third downs during the sequence, including on the final play when he hit Charles Clay with a 1-yard touchdown pass.

The drive set franchise records for the number of plays and time of possession.

"I didn't realize how long it was," Moore said. "It was unbelievable, just a great job on everybody's part."

Otherwise the Dolphins' offense sputtered without 1,000-yard rusher Reggie Bush, who sat out with a right knee injury. Dan Carpenter compensated with field goals of 44, 58, 40 and 44 yards.

Trickery paid off early for the Jets when rookie receiver Jeremy Kerley took the snap from the wildcat and threw to a wide-open Dustin Keller for 41 yards. Three plays later, Keller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez to put the Jets up 7-3.

Otherwise, Sanchez and his offense sputtered, while the Dolphins looked dismal at times, too. The nadir occurred during an unsightly drive in the second quarter, when the Jets committed four false-start penalties while Miami had two 5-yard penalties. The merciful ending came with a New York field goal.

The stands were perhaps half full, reflecting the disenchantment of Dolphins fans. Owner Stephen Ross drew jeers when he honored Taylor during a pregame ceremony, and a small plane overhead tugged a banner that called for the firing of general manager Jeff Ireland.

"This whole season was a lesson for us," Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith said. "On paper, we were a very good team, but you have to prove it every Sunday."

Notes: Miami WR Davone Bess left the game in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury. LB Karlos Dansby departed in the first quarter with a groin injury. G Richie Incognito left in the third period with a neck injury. ... Jets LB David Harris was ruled out in the fourth quarter with a calf injury. ... Taylor's brother-in-law, former Dolphins LB Zach Thomas, was an honorary co-captain. ... Video tributes to Taylor on the scoreboard during the game included one from Dan Marino wearing jersey No. 99. ... The longest previous drive in Dolphins history was 18 plays.

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