In the “Postgame Notes and Quotes” published by the home team, the ever-boastful New York Jets pointed out that the paltry 104 net yards gained by the Dolphins (52 rushing, 52 passing) were the fourth-fewest allowed in franchise history.
But, once again, the only stat that ever really matters is points scored versus points allowed as determined at the end of each game.
The 299 yards allowed on kickoff returns probably had some significance in this one, too.
It was fitting, we suppose, that in the first meeting between these two teams after the Jets refused to credit the Dolphins for superior execution and game planning, the Miami offense was shut down — and 21 points came from two Ted Ginn kick returns and a defensive fumble rumble by Jason Taylor.
And, this time around, coach Rex Ryan again opted not to tip his cap to the Dolphins for delivering big plays via two long kick returns.
“[S]ometimes things just don’t make sense,” Ryan said. “Statistically, this game is not going to look close. I truly feel that our football team is good enough to beat anybody in this league, but we also can lose to anybody in this league if we spot a team three touchdowns.”
Or six interceptions against Buffalo. Or whatever else has contributed to the four losses that now match the four wins.
That’s really the key here. In each game that one NFL team loses to another team, it’s easy to point to things that your team has done wrong instead of the things the other team did right.
It’s also dangerous to continuously point out your own flaws instead of explaining that maybe, just maybe, the better team won. Indeed, eventually, folks will begin to conclude that the inability of the superior franchise to emerge with a victory flows not from bad luck, but from bad coaching.
Meanwhile, it was somewhat fitting that the second-half collapse of the Jets’ kickoff coverage delivered the win for the Dolphins. In 2008, after “retired” special-teams coach Mike Westhoff had spent time at Miami offseason practices, Westhoff suddenly unretired and went back to work for the Jets. Based on whispers and scattered rumors we’ve heard over the past 15 months or so, the incident sparked a strong negative reaction from Dolphins V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells — and possibly has fractured the once close relationship between Parcells and Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum.
So after losing twice to the Tuna in a season in which Tannenbaum’s job could be on the line, the former Parcells right-hand man has been reminded once again of the identity of his daddy.
The Jets now have two weeks to ponder what might have been before embarking on a second-half schedule that features trips to New England and Indianapolis and visits from the Falcons and Bengals. The other four games look to be winnnable, but this 4-4 team currently has the look and feel of a franchise destined to go 8-8 — and then to make January excuses for not winning enough times to play beyond Week Seventeen.
For the Dolphins, hope remains alive. (Indeed, Bart Scott thinks they’re headed to, well, Miami for the Super Bowl.) They needed to win one of the two consecutive road games at New York and New England. If they can steal a win from the Pats next weekend and move to 4-4, Miami is very much alive for a playoff berth — either via the wild-card route or possibly stealing the division from the Pats, again.