Who knew that Jets-Dolphins could end up being so entertaining? Entertaining in a cringeworthy way, of course.
The big news was that the Miami Dolphins won their first game of the 2019 season. But the way the first half ended, it was fair to wonder if they were still in tank mode ... after going up two touchdowns.
The final two minutes of the half were dizzying. It featured three scoring plays — and three different types of scores — in addition to one touchdown that was taken off the board.
That’s how a 14-7 game at the two-minute warning turned into a 21-12 halftime score, with the Dolphins leading.
The Dolphins took a two-TD lead when Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Preston Williams with a touchdown pass to give the Dolphins a 21-7 edge, their biggest lead of Miami’s winless season.
The Jets returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards, and three plays later Sam Darnold appeared to shave the lead in half when he connected on what looked to be a pretty 2-yard TD pass to Ryan Griffin. However, officials reviewed the play and determined that Griffin bobbled the ball after coming to the ground well out of the end zone.
Score off the board, Darnold then threw a wild interception under pressure. Raekwon McMillan hit Darnold, and the pass was picked by Miami’s Jomal Wiltz — his first NFL interception.
Then things got even more weird
Wiltz went out of bounds at the 1-yard line, which put the Dolphins’ offense in a tricky spot, backed up near their own end zone, in the final minute of the half. Fitzpatrick tried to sneak it up the middle to give Miami breathing room, and it was initially ruled as a no-gain.
That’s when Dolphins head coach Brian Flores called timeout, which allowed time for a review. Officials looked at it, and the play was reversed — yep, a safety. That made it 21-9, Miami.
And we were not done with the first half yet.
The Jets’ Braxton Berrios returned the free kick 25 yards, and the offense got the ball into range for kicker Sam Ficken, who booted a 52-yard field goal with six seconds remaining.
That’s how we got to 21-12 in a wild, controversial first half.
The Jets can blame themselves for the bad interception and poor defense in that sequence, but the shaky overturned touchdown had to rankle head coach Adam Gase. Even if his club ended up earning five of the potential six (or seven or eight) points they could have had, thanks to Flores’ timeout.
Sometimes weird, fun things happen when bad teams meet. Perhaps that should be the NFL’s sales pitch when games such as this happen.
But yes, it was clear by game’s end that the Dolphins did not intend to go 0-16 just for the draft-pick bounty.
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