Miami Sports Day

NFL: Dolphins Ground Jets on Drake’s Return, 27-23

Rookie Kenyan Drake scored the go-ahead, fourth-quarter touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return to lead Miami to a 27-23 win over the New York Jets on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Jay Ajayi, the second-year running back who rushed for 111 yards on Sunday after gaining 204 and 214 in his previous two games, could only watch and cheer when the Dolphins made their winning play.

“Everyone was running down the sideline,” Ajayi said of the Dolphins rooting on Drake. “I was trying to beat (Drake) to the end zone. I was so excited for him.”

Drake’s return came with 5:15 left in the game. On the previous play, Miami’s Jakeem Grant was tackled on his own 20 on a kickoff return. But due to an off-sides penalty on the Jets, New York was forced to kick off again.

Ironically, Grant had returned a punt for a touchdown in the first half, but that play was negated by a block-in-the-back penalty on Drake.

Miami (4-4) won its third game in a row. The Jets are 3-6.

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who left the game for one series due to a left knee injury, threw two costly interceptions but was nearly the hero.

He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie Jalin Marshall with 5:42 left in the game. That gave the Jets a 23-20 lead and led to the off-sides penalty and subsequent kickoff return that doomed the Jets.

Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, who had engaged in a war of words with Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell leading up to the game, was held to six catches for 45 yards and no scores.

Marshall was targeted nine times and was seen arguing with Fitzpatrick on the sidelines.

“The great thing about (Marshall) is that he is a crazy competitor, and he wants the ball on every play,” Fitzpatrick said. “There is nothing to read into (the arguing). Our relationship — we understand each other.”

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t have nearly as much drama as Fitzpatrick, passing for 149 yards and one touchdown. But he was not intercepted and managed the game.

New York took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards on 13 plays, settling for a 23-yard Nick Folk field goal. The drive took 6:34 off the clock and was helped by a third-down interference penalty on Miami linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

Miami took a 7-3 lead, scoring a touchdown on its first possession — a 20-yard run by Ajayi. Of the 75 yards the Dolphins gained on the drive, 35 came on penalties, including a roughing call on Buster Skrine and taunting on Calvin Pryor.

New York came back on its next drive and got a 31-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte. The 75-yard drive was helped by a third-down horse-collar penalty on Miami defensive end Andre Branch.

Miami took a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter after an 11-play, 75-yard march that was capped by a one-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to tight end Dominique Jones. That drive took 5:19 off the clock.

New York cut its deficit to 14-13, getting a 21-yard Folk field goal. That drive, which closed the first-half scoring, was set up by a 32-yard run by Forte.

Miami extended its lead to 20-13 with a pair of Andrew Franks field goals, 33 and 29 yards.

The second field goal was set up by a Jordan Phillips interception. The 6-6, 335-pound defensive tackle surprised

Fitzpatrick by dropping into coverage and stepping in front of slant route. Phillips returned the pick 17 yards, leaping over a Jets would-be tackler.

New York cut its deficit to 20-16 on a 28-yard field goal by Folk.

But Fitzpatrick, who completed 17-of-28 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown, threw his second interception on his next possession. Facing a blitzer in his face, Fitzpatrick threw the ball up for grabs in the end zone, and it was picked off by cornerback Bobby McCain.

Jets coach Todd Bowles, who benched Fitzpatrick earlier this season, said that will not be the case for the rest of the season.

Bowles declined to say why star defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson did not play in the first quarter. But Bowles did comment on the four personal-foul penalties that the Jets were hit with in the first half.

“It’s infuriating,” Bowles said. “We’ve got to have better composure than that.”

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