Sparano Is At Home On The Road Against The Jets

Posted Oct 13, 2011

Under Coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins are a perfect 3-0 on the road against the Jets. It’s pretty heady stuff, especially when you consider the Dolphins had lost nine of their previous 10 road games against the Jets.

It’s not just the bye — a chance to reflect and correct mistakes — that will give the Dolphins hope they can get back on the right track this week.

It’s also because of the matchup and their recent track record in road games against the New York Jets.

Under Coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins are a perfect 3-0 on the road against the Jets. It’s pretty heady stuff, especially when you consider the Dolphins had lost nine of their previous 10 road games against the Jets.

Over the past three NFL seasons, only seven other teams have gone 3-0 on the road against a division opponent.

Oakland did it twice, against Kansas City and Denver, and the other teams to accomplish the feat were Arizona against St. Louis; Baltimore against Cleveland; Chicago against Detroit; New England against Buffalo (that streak ended this year); the Giants against Washington; and the Jets against Buffalo.

Looking at the list, it’s very obvious that nobody can match the degree of difficulty achieved by the Dolphins over the past three years. The Jets, remember, finished with winning records each of those three seasons and reached the AFC Championship Game the last two.

So what’s been the magic formula? Well, considering the Dolphins didn’t reach 320 yards in any of those last three road games against the Jets, it’s certainly not been offensive fireworks.

Rather, as we revisit those three games, it’s been mostly a collection of big plays on defense and special teams.

2008 — Dolphins 24, Jets 17

Because of what was at stake, this one clearly was the sweetest.

The stage was set for a Hollywood finish — the Dolphins attempting to complete their worst-to-first season, Chad Pennington returning to New York to face his former team and Brett Favre, the quarterback for whom the Jets had dumped him — and the Dolphins played their part to perfection.

An interception return for a touchdown by rookie defensive end Phillip Merling helped the Dolphins build a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter before André Goodman intercepted Favre after the Jets had driven to the Dolphins 29-yard line.

The perfect touch was added when Pennington, never known as much of a runner, gained 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 right before the two-minute warning to help the Dolphins all but clinch the victory and the AFC East title.

2009 — Dolphins 30, Jets 25

This was the Ted Ginn Jr. show.

A week after drawing heavy media criticism following a poor performance in a loss to New Orleans, Ginn answered by making NFL history with two kickoff returns for touchdowns of 100 yards or more in the third quarter.

For good measure, Jason Taylor returned a fumble for a touchdown in that third quarter, easily one of the wildest 15 minutes in team history. In that third quarter, the Dolphins scored 21 points while running a grand total of six offensive plays good for 9 yards.

The Dolphins still needed a defensive stand to clinch the victory after the Jets drove to a first down at the 12-yard line at the two-minute warning. Defensive end Randy Starks then came up with two huge plays — stopping Mark Sanchez for only a 1-yard gain on a scramble that appeared destined to bring him close to the goal line, followed by a sack.

With that, the Dolphins were able to leave the Meadowlands with a victory despite gaining only 104 yards of total offense.

2010 — Dolphins 10, Jets 6

The Dolphins offense didn’t fare much better in this one, with only 131 total yards, but the defense — with a lot of help from punter Brandon Fields — took care of things.

Fields had perhaps the greatest punting day in franchise history when he averaged 56.4 yards on 10 kicks, with an incredible net average of 49.6 yards. Of his 10 punts, four went for 60 yards or more, another four went for more than 50 yards, and a ninth went for 49 yards.

The defense set up Miami’s only touchdown of the game when Nolan Carroll — who later would become involved in one of the most bizarre scenes in the NFL last year when he was tripped by a Jets assistant coach while running down the sideline — picked off Sanchez in the first quarter.

There was no late defensive stand needed in this one, as the Dolphins didn’t allow the Jets to reach midfield on their last two drives.

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