EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes while starting in place of the injured Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins kept the New York Jets winless with a 20-3 victory Sunday.
Tagovailoa was inactive with a left thumb injury, so Fitzpatrick stepped in against one of his many former teams.
He didn’t need to do too much against the lowly Jets.
The veteran quarterback was 24 of 39 for 257 yards with TD throws to tight ends Mike Gesicki and Adam Shaheen, helping the Dolphins (7-4) bounce back after having a five-game winning streak end last week.
New York got its starting quarterback back as Sam Darnold played after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. But he was unable to get much going for the offense, with coach Adam Gase appearing to reclaim play-calling duties after offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had done so the last three games.
Darnold was intercepted twice and the Jets (0-11) twice couldn’t take advantage of takeaways by the defense. Darnold was 16 of 27 for 197 yards.
Another poor offensive showing had speculation swirling again over whether New York could part ways with Gase, who was outscored 44-3 in two losses this season to his former team. The 11-game skid is the second-longest in team history, one game short of the losing streak by the 1995-96 teams under Rich Kotite.
After Miami went three-and-out to open the second half, New York moved the ball down the field — thanks to an impressive 27-yard grab by Breshad Perriman. But Darnold tried to make too much happen on third down at the Dolphins 32, throwing across his body on the run and into double coverage with Nik Needham making an easy interception.
The Jets didn’t muster much the rest of the way — although they had some chances.
The Dolphins began chewing up clock late in the third quarter by focusing on the run, but it cost them when Quinnen Williams popped the ball out of Matt Breida’s hands and Harvey Langi recovered to give the Jets the ball at Miami’s 45 with 4:09 remaining in the period.
But New York couldn’t do anything with the takeaway, going three and out.
The Jets’ defense came up big again on the Dolphins’ next drive, with Jordan Jenkins knocking the ball out of Patrick Laird’s hands and Neville Hewitt scooping it up and returning it to Miami’s 26.
But again, New York’s offense stalled. The Jets went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 17, but Frank Gore was stuffed by Elandon Roberts for a 1-yard loss.
Fitzpatrick drove the Dolphins down the field and sealed the win with a 7-yard touchdown toss to Shaheen to make it 20-3 with 6:54 left.
On both drives after the defense caused a turnover, Gase conservatively called runs on first down: the 37-year-old Gore got 1 yard on the first and 2 yards on the second.
Gesicki gave the Dolphins a 10-3 lead with 8:56 left in the first half when Fitzpatrick threw a fade into the right corner of the end zone and the 6-foot-6 tight end used his height advantage to outreach 6-1 rookie safety Ashtyn Davis for the touchdown.
The drive was prolonged by a controversial call when DeVante Parker was credited with a 19-yard catch despite not appearing to ever fully control the ball before Javelin Guidry knocked it out of his hands. Gase challenged the call — and TV replays seemed to support the Jets’ argument — but it was upheld and the Dolphins scored four plays later.
JUST FOR KICKS
Jason Sanders kicked field goals of 54 and 51 yards, giving him an NFL-leading eight from 50 or more yards.
Meanwhile, Sergio Castillo made a 38-yarder on New York’s first possession, but was wide right on a 29-yarder as time expired in the first half.
Dolphins: WR Malcolm Perry injured his chest early in the game.
Jets: With RT George Fant (knee/ankle) out, Conor McDermott started in his place. LG Pat Elflein made his Jets debut, replacing Alex Lewis (not injury-related).
Dolphins: Host the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.
Jets: Host the Las Vegas Raiders next Sunday.