By Peter Schwartz
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Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is a big one for the Jets in so many ways.
At 3-4, they are still very much in the mix for a playoff spot in the AFC and they sit just one game behind the Patriots for the division lead. Don’t forget, they still have a game left with New England at home on Thanksgiving night.
This is also a divisional game and a win over Miami would give the Jets a 3-1 mark against the AFC East, an important record when you think about a potential tie-breaker down the road.
Sunday’s game also gives the Jets a chance to do something special: they have not swept a season series from the Dolphins since Rex Ryan took over as head coach in 2009.
“The fact we haven’t swept Miami in the past, it would be quite an accomplishment,” said Ryan. “Obviously, we know we’re going to get the very best Miami has. They’re going to be well-rested coming off the bye.”
It will not be easy for the Jets’ offense on Sunday. The Dolphins are ranked No. 4 in the NFL giving up just over 78 yards per game on the ground.
“They’re doing really well against the run, making a lot of plays, keeping teams out of the end zone,” said Tim Tebow. “They’re doing a great job. We really have to be ready with a great game plan.”
The Miami defense is also ranked No. 1 in third-down efficiency at just under 26 percent.
Whenever the Jets and Dolphins get together, you can usually expect a tough contest. You can throw the records out the window because when these rivals step onto the field, you never quite know what to expect.
Well, that’s not exactly right. You can expect a lot of hard hitting. And the Jets are ready for that from the Dolphins on Sunday.
“Of course, it’s a physical group,” said Mark Sanchez. “It’s an emotional game for both teams. It’s always a tough test playing Miami. They’re a divisional opponent.”
The Jets defense will have to face a Dolphins offense led by rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who seems to be getting better and better each week. His passer rating has gone up every game this season. It was 50.2 against the Jets in Week 2 and it ballooned to 112 two weeks ago against the Rams.
Throw in an unhappy Reggie Bush, who continues to be insulted by Rex Ryan’s “hot sauce” comment, and you have a Dolphins team that can cause some problems.
These games are always interesting. I would expect much of the same on Sunday.
JETS-DOLPHINS ALL-TIME SERIES
The Jets lead the all-time regular season series against the Dolphins 49-43-1, including a 23-20 win earlier this season in South Florida. The Jets have won three of the last five from Miami, but the Dolphins have won five of the last eight against the Jets.
The series history has been dominated by streaks on both ends, with the Jets winning the first eight games of the series and amassing another streak of eight games — as well as runs of five and six games — while the Dolphins recorded a seven-game winning streak and a pair of six-game winning streaks.
The Dolphins and Jets have met one time in the playoffs, with the Dolphins beating Gang Green 14-0 in the AFC title game in Jan. 1983.
The Jets are 3-0 against the Dolphins in games played following a Miami bye week.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Dolphins visit MetLife Stadium coming off of their bye week. They have won two in a row and sit at 3-3. Miami comes into this game having done their homework on Gang Green.
“I think they’re playing well,” said Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. “It’s a good football team and they’re playing well. Again, I don’t think teams change a whole lot, but they’re certainly looking improved. They’ve been playing well. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. No doubt.”
In the first Jets-Dolphins game, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a season-ending knee injury. So this time around Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill won’t have to worry about him. Instead, he’ll see a bit of a different look from the Gang Green defense.
“They’re playing a little bit more zone coverage now,” said Tannehill. “I think that’s expected, losing a great player like (Darrelle) Revis. Still have good players in the secondary, but they change things a little bit more with more zone coverage.”
More Dolphins notes:
— The Dolphins are 12-10 in games following the bye week.
— Reggie Bush has a 4.8 rushing average as a Dolphin. That ties him for second place in team history among running backs with a minimum of 300 rushing attempts.
— Cameron Wake has 34.5 sacks during his career, the most a Dolphin in his first four seasons.
— Davone Bess has 34 catches for 327 yards in nine career games against the Jets.
— Bush has faced the Jets three times and has 26 rushes for 169 yards.
— Anthony Fasano has 31 catches for 295 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games against Gang Green.
Who holds the Jets’ record for most rushing yards in a game against the Dolphins?
(Answer at the end of the blog.)
Sunday’s game can be seen on CBS-2 HD with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
The Jets are asking fans to head to the gates by 12:15 p.m. so that you can be in your seats for the pregame festivities, including a guest appearance by a celebrity to lead the crown in the “J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS” chant. For the first time ever, the Jets will ask fans to sing the national anthem.
Shonn Greene has rushed 82 times for 247 yards in seven career games against the Dolphins. Dustin Keller has 28 catches for 328 yards and four touchdowns in eight career contests against the Fish. Mark Sanchez has faced Miami seven times and has is 120 of 233 for 1,623 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Sunday’s game against the Dolphins marks the third in the last four for the Jets against one of the top five rushing offenses in the AFC.
CB Antonio Cromartie is tied for the AFC lead with three interceptions this sea¬son and his 10 thefts since joining the Jets in 2010. Since 2007, Cromartie has produced 25 interceptions, an amount that ranks second to only Ed Reed.
The Jets, in conjunction with A-1 First Class Moving and Storage, will hold its annual food drive to benefit the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN). Fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations (no glass items) that will be collected at all gates upon entering the stadium.
NO JET WILL EVER WEAR No. 90 AGAIN
Dennis Byrd’s No. 90 will be retired at halftime of Sunday’s game. The Jets have not issued the number since Byrd suffered a broken neck in a game against the Chiefs on Nov. 29, 1992.
During the first half, highlights from Byrd’s career will be shown on the video boards. Then, at halftime, the ceremony will certainly be emotional as Jets players from the 1992 team will be on hand.
“It’s going to be big that the Jets are going to be retiring Dennis Byrd’s No. 90 jersey, so congratulations to him,” said Ryan. “He has been great. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit and I think that’s a great tribute to him.”
Byrd had no contact with the team for many years — until the week of the AFC divisional playoff game against the Patriots two seasons ago. Byrd sent a package to Ryan that included a note and the jersey that had been cut off his body after he suffered the injury.
“It was amazing,” said Ryan. “When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I was extremely proud that he identified with that Jet team. I thought that was really tremendous.”
Ryan then invited Byrd to meet the team in New England and address the players the night before the game. Byrd agreed and his words were well received by the players.
“He spoke to our team from his heart and it meant everything to our team,” recalled Ryan. “I can tell you that much.”
Byrd attended the victory over the Patriots and then served as the Jets’ honorary captain for the AFC Championship game the following week in Pittsburgh.
Byrd’s No. 90 will be the fifth number to be retired by the Jets. He joins Joe Namath (12), Don Maynard (13), Joe Klecko (73) and Curtis Martin (28).
JETS RANK IN SI’S NEW BOOK
One of my guilty pleasures in life is reading the wonderful books from Sports Illustrated. They have come up with another winner in “Football’s Greatest.” The new book lists the top ten in over 20 categories, including player by position, best stadiums, coaches and trades.
I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you that a certain Jets player is ranked as the among the top defensive backs of all time; a former Jets quarterback is rated as one of the best interview subjects; a classic Jets game is among the top ten NFL games ever; and the Jets are also a part of one of pro football’s ten best rivalries.
In true SI fashion, “Football’s Greatest” is a wonderful book with plenty of great stories and photos. The actual lists will make for passionate discussion among fans.
“Football’s Greatest” features contributions from many SI writers including Peter King, Don Banks, Jim Trotter and Tim Layden. For more info on the book, go to si.com/footballsgreatest.
My record this season: 6-1
The Jets struggled their way to a victory over the Dolphins in South Florida earlier this season. Gang Green is playing better right now and they really need this game heading into the bye week.
I don’t think they will let this one slip away.
JETS 26, DOLPHINS 17
Trivia Answer: Freeman McNeil-173 yards on 28 carries on Oct. 14, 1985.
That’s all for now! Check back Monday for a recap.
What’s your prediction for Jets-Dolphins? Let us know in the comments below!