By Abraham Gutierrez
As expected, the New York Jets made the trip across the pond, socked the Miami Dolphins on the mouth, and came away with a 27-14 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Wembley Stadium. The win improved Gang Green’s record to 3-1 on the 2015 NFL season, as the Jets will make the trip back to the Big Apple with plenty of optimism in the team’s locker room.
“It feels good going into the break 3-1 instead of 2-2,” said first-year head coach Todd Bowles in his post-game press conference. “It gives us a chance to start the second quarter of the season off on a good note. We know we got a lot of things to clean up, but to come out here and play with the energy to start the game they played with I was proud of them from that standpoint.”
Offensively, the Jets beat Miami’s defense into submission with aggressiveness, energy and smash-mouth football. New York finished the game with 24 first downs, 425 yards of offense – 207 rushing and 218 passing – controlled the ball for 37 minutes and 22 seconds, and the O-line did a good job of keeping their quarterback upright by not surrendering a single sack.
Setting the tone on the first (offensive) play of the game, Ryan Fitzpatrick (16-of-29 for 218 yards, TD, INT, 76.5 QBR) connected on a 58-yard pass to wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, and the Jets never looked back. After the game, the former Dolphin – who finished with a game-high 128 yards on 7 receptions – spoke to reporters about how it felt to have an impact in a crucial AFC East divisional clash right out of the gate.
“I don’t think it matters if it was a pass to me, or a run,” Marshall said. “We came out and we wanted to be aggressive, so it was pretty cool to hear that the first play was going to be “double go” and I just felt good that I was able to make a play for the offense and the team just to jump-start us.”
Nevertheless, the Jets couldn’t have done it without the stellar play of running back Chris Ivory. The former Tiffin University standout torched the Fins’ defense on his way to a career-high 166 yards on 29 carries and a score.
“His gamespeed is just unbelievable. He runs the ball violently and the guy’s a stud,” Marshall said of Ivory’s running style. “Like I said from preseason, he makes everything go for us.”
The only reason the Jets “D” didn’t play well enough to receive a letter grade of A+ was because of two crucial pass interference penalties. With the Dolphins on the ropes, New York committed back-to-back PIs that, not only led to a Miami touchdown, but also gave Ryan Tannehill & Co. a little life when nothing else was working.
“We practically gave them seven points on two penalties and two [pass interference] calls back-to-back,” Bowles explained after the game. “They made the calls, we just gotta play cleaner. We can’t have penalties, we won’t beat a lot of teams in this league. We were fortunate today.”
Nevertheless, Gang Green’s resistance made up or those woes by shutting down the Dolphins in decisive moments. The NFL’s No.1 defense pitched a shutout on third down situations, and didn’t allow a single fourth-down conversion, limited Miami to 0-for-12 and 0-for-4, respectively.
“I’ll take that all day long,” Bowles said in that regard. “We came out ready to play and we started fast. The penalties prevented us from blowing them out. We’ve got 14 penalties we’ve got to take care of. 14 penalties: six in the first half, we got eight in the second half. That shut drives down, that got them to their first touchdown. We gotta clean that up, guys. Coming over here preparation wise, getting ready for the game, starting fast, outstanding.”
Special Teams: A-
Aside from a missed 41-yard field goal attempt from Nick Folk, the Jets special teams unit was also on its game. The Jets kicker connected on two of three field goals and three extra points on the game, helping extend the lead when Miami’s defense held serve.
Punter Ryan Quigley also had a decent ball game, recording 5 punts, for an average of 42.4 yards per boot, including a long of 51 yards, and placed one inside the Dolphins’ 20-yard line.
Coaching is perhaps the most telling part of this ballgame as Bowles did a tremendous job given the travel and all the distractions surrounding the NFL’s International Series. “Aggressive” was the one word every single Jets player utilized to describe the gameplan heading into this international game.
Not only did the Jets do a great job of execution, but also the play calling was commendable on both sides of the football. Offensively, Bowles’ bunch came out with a purpose, jumped out to an early lead, and allowed its defense to take care of the rest by unloading all the blitz-package combinations that exist on the current playbook.
“We wanted to keep them out of the end zone, that was out gameplan on defense to keep them out of the end zone,” said future first-ballot Hall of Famer, Darrelle Revis. “Coming here to London we wanted to make a statement and go out there and play the ball that we usually play, that’s great ball.”
The New York Jets will enjoy a bye week, but will be right back at it with a showdown with the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium in Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.