EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Matt Moore’s first game as Ryan Tannehill’s replacement was the best of his career.
The nine-year veteran stepped in Saturday night by throwing for four touchdowns in keeping the Miami Dolphins’ playoff hopes very much alive with a 34-13 rout of the New York Jets.
In his first start since Jan. 1, 2012 – a Dolphins victory over the Jets, with current New York coach Todd Bowles serving as interim Miami coach – Moore picked apart the mistake-prone hosts.
He hit Dion Sims for a pair of 1-yard TDs and Kenny Stills for 52 and Jarvis Landry for 61 in Miami’s eighth win in its last night games. The Dolphins (9-5) clinched their first winning season since 2008, the last time they won the AFC East.
Should Moore (12 for 18 for 236 yards) continue such strong play, they certainly can be optimistic about playing in the postseason.
The Jets (4-10) have lost as many games as they won in 2015, Bowles’ first season in charge. They also lost second-year quarterback Bryce Petty on the first play of the fourth quarter after he was squashed by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake and had the wind knocked out of him.
For good measure, the Dolphins threw in an 11-yard blocked punt return touchdown by Walt Aiken.
The game was competitive for a half. For once, the Jets started quickly. They were awful in the first half of their last two outings, but Petty immediately guided them 75 yards in seven plays for a 7-0 lead. Robby Anderson , coming on at receiver late in the year, badly beat Bacarri Rambo on a crossing pattern and sped into the end zone.
It took a replay challenge by Dolphins coach Adam Gase to get an incompletion overturned into Sims’ first 1-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter – Moore’s first TD throw since Week 8 of 2012, also against the Jets. Andrew Franks’ extra point kick hit the left upright, his first miss this season.
Eighth-year defensive end Wake’s first career interception on an awful throw by Petty thwarted another New York threat in the opening half. And the Dolphins stopped Bilal Powell on a fourth-and-1 run near midfield.
That set up Moore’s perfect pass to Stills behind rookie cornerback Justin Burris for a 13-7 lead.
Powell had a big first half with 113 yards total offense. But it only helped get 10 points; Nick Folk made a 48-yard field goal with 18 seconds left. Powell gained only 36 yards in the second half.
The Dolphins were outgained by 225 yards to 129, yet went to the locker room ahead 13-10.
From there, it was all Miami, getting Aikens’ and Landry’s scores and Sims’ second TD.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.