EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, Bilal Powell ran for a score, and the New York Jets’ defense dominated Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins in a 20-6 victory on Sunday.
While a lot of the focus heading into the season was on whether the revamped Jets roster would be good enough to win any games, New York made Miami look like the team in the middle of a rebuild.
McCown finished 18 of 23 for 249 yards, Chandler Catanzaro kicked two field goals, and the Jets (1-2) forced Cutler and the Dolphins (1-1) into mistakes all game. The Jets also avoided their first 0-3 start since 2003.
New York just missed having its first shutout since blanking Cincinnati 37-0 on Jan. 13, 2010 — in the Jets’ last game at the old Giants Stadium. Cutler threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the final play. Cody Parkey missed the extra point, capping a miserable day for Miami in 88-degree heat at MetLife Stadium.
Cutler, making his second start for Miami, struggled to connect with his receivers throughout. Miami failed to convert its first eight third-down opportunities, not getting one until early in the fourth quarter, and finishing 1 for 12.
Cutler was 26 of 44 for 220 yards with an interception and the TD toss.
A solid drive on New York’s second possession stalled at the Dolphins 32, and Catanzaro shanked a 45-yard field goal attempt wide left, leaving the game scoreless.
The Jets finally took their first lead of the season on Catanzaro’s 40-yarder with 7:17 remaining in the half. McCown was able to get New York back in field-goal range after consecutive holding calls made it first-and-30 from the Jets 38. On third-and-22, McCown connected with Jermaine Kearse, whose diving grab for 18 yards put the Jets in field-goal position.
New York took a 10-0 lead on McCown’s perfectly placed pass to Anderson, who caught the ball in stride and sped into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown. The play came right after a long run by Powell was wiped out by a questionable holding penalty on center Wesley Johnson.
Powell leaped into the end zone from 1 yard to make it 17-0 on the Jets’ first possession of the second half. The drive was kept alive by defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas — lining up as a fullback throughout the game — catching a 15-yard pass on third-and-1. After a 12-yard run by Matt Forte, Powell swept left end and had a clear path for the score.
New York shut down Cutler and the Dolphins on the next drive, and Matt Haack tried a fake punt. His pass was picked off by Terrence Brooks. The play actually cost the Jets 21 yards because Brooks chose to intercept the ball rather than just knock it down.
The Jets still got another score, though, this time on a 22-yarder by Catanzaro. It was actually Catanzaro’s second made field goal of the drive, but Miami’s William Hayes was called for an illegal formation penalty on the Jets kicker’s 46-yarder — prolonging the possession for New York.
ON THE ROAD: The game marked the second of three road trips to open the season for the Dolphins, who had their season opener at home vs. Tampa Bay postponed because of Hurricane Irma. Miami will play New Orleans next weekend in London before making a home debut against Tennessee.
The Jets are home for Jacksonville.
SHUT DOWN: After running for 122 yards in the Dolphins’ opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, Jay Ajayi managed just 16 yards on 11 carries against the Jets.
ASJ IS A-OK: Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins made his season debut after being suspended for the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy while with Tampa Bay last year.
Seferian-Jenkins sought help to treat his alcohol issues when he joined the Jets, and marked 243 days sober last Thursday. He dropped 33 pounds in the offseason and looked impressive during training camp and the preseason. Seferian-Jenkins finished with five catches for 31 yards.
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)