Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Edwards shines, defense struggles to slow down Dolphins and Wildcat

It's fitting that the Dolphins scored the game-winning touchdown on a direct snap to Ronnie Brown from the Wildcat. Miami ran 16 plays out of the formation for 110 yards on Monday night, as the Jets just couldn't find an answer for Brown, Ricky Williams and even Pat White, who ran for a first down on second-and-four on the final drive.

Not only did the Jets struggle to stop the Wildcat, but Chad Henne was more effective against their pass defense than either Drew Brees or Tom Brady was earlier this season, going 20-26 for 241 yards and two touchdowns. That had a lot to do with the Dolphins underrated offensive line and the effectiveness of their running game, as the Jets couldn't let the dogs loose against the Dolphins' run-heavy gameplan and the line did a great job picking up the blitz when it came.

On the bright side for the Jets, it looks like they made a shrewd move in trading almost nothing for Braylon Edwards, who reverted back to his 2007 form in his first game with his new team on the big stage. He caught a three-yard touchdown from Sanchez early to tie the game at seven, snatching the ball out of the air in the back of the endzone and showing surprising strength with his hands.

Edwards also made an acrobatic 34-yard catch in the fourth quarter on third-and-21, as Sanchez pump-faked to the right to freeze the safety just long enough for Edwards to beat his man down the left sideline. Sanchez put the throw where only Edwards could make the catch and he did, for what looked to be a touchdown. After a review, they ruled him down at the half-yard-line, but Thomas Jones punched it in to put the Jets back on top, 20-17, after a Henne touchdown to Anthony Fasano on the previous drive.

The Dolphins would march right back the field, as Henne connected with speedster Ted Ginn for a 53-yard touchdown. Ginn put a double move on Jets corner Darrelle Revis, who it seems hadn't been beat all season until last night. The throw from Henne was right on the money as Ginn outraced three Jets to the endzone.

After the teams exchanged punts, Sanchez found pre-season star turned regular-season inactive David Clowney 53 yards downfield and the Jets went 63 yards in just four plays to take the lead back at 27-24 on Jones' second touchdown of the game. But the Dolphins would essentially run out the clock with a 13-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in Brown's two-yard touchdown with just six seconds to play on third down.

The way the fourth quarter was going, it looked like the team to have the ball last was going to win the game, and that's exactly what happened. Sanchez had to air the ball out on the final play from Miami territory and his throw fell incomplete around the 10-yard-line as time expired. If the Jets had at least a minute to put a drive together, the result may have been different.

Give credit to the Dolphins though, as their offense controlled the game with the run. That was especially true on the last drive, where they ran the clock down to the end to keep the Jets from answering. The Dolphins set up the pass with the run well all night, keeping the Jets defense confused and off-balanced.

The return of Calvin Pace didn't do much for the Jets defense as a whole, but Pace finished with five tackles (one for a loss). Sanchez finished 12-24 for 172 yards and a touchdown, while Edwards had 64 yards on five catches. Ronnie Brown led the Miami ground attack with 74 yards on 21 carries and Ricky Williams had a big day, running 11 times for 68 yards and catching three balls for 70 yards, including a beautiful executed 59-yard screen play in the first quarter.

Even without Chad Pennington, the Dolphins are a well-coached football team that can run the football with the best in the league. And if Chad Henne plays like this every week, teams will have a lot more trouble with the Dolphins than they did with Pennington at the helm.

The Dolphins head into their bye 2-3, while the Jets will host the 1-4 Bills at the Meadowlands. After this loss and the Bills' awful effort against Cleveland, I expect a bounceback next week from what should be an angry Jets defense. Trent Edwards should watch his head.

-Jerricho Cotchery was extremely limited due to a hamstring injury, catching just one ball for four yards in limited action. Edwards' ability to pick up the offense quickly combined with Cotchery's injury issues were likely the major contributors to his absence, but he should be back in full force next week to team up with Edwards and give the Jets the dangerous receiving combination they haven't had since the days of Keyshawn Johnson and Wayne Chrebet.

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