The Dolphins and Jets have partaken in a few memorable and a few not-so-memorable Monday Night Football games in the past, but tonight’s showdown has major implications for Miami.
With Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kansas City losing, along with Buffalo winning, the Dolphins must win this game to stay in the playoff hunt. At 7-5, the Phins are on the outskirts of the playoff picture, but still in the hunt. A loss would be devastating, especially against an AFC-East foe.
“It’s a rivalry,” said linebacker Jelani Jenkins. “We play them twice a year. A lot times, they’re in the way of getting to the playoffs. It’s not really a hatred thing for me, but it’s definitely competition. Since you see them twice a year, you see the same guys and there might be some chatter the game before and some revenge things going on. That’s what happens when you play a team that’s in your division.”
Despite a 2-9 record this season, New York has beaten or played well against quality opponents this season. Gang Green has wins over Pittsburgh and Oakland and has lost three other games by ten points or less to opponents like New England, Detroit and Chicago.
“We’ve got to go out and play one of our best games of the year,” said guard Mike Pouncey. “Even though we’re playing a team that doesn’t have that good of a record, it doesn’t show that on film. They’ve got a top 10 defense, they play really well on defense. I know on offense we have to play really well.”
On the opposite side of the ball, the Jets have a dilemma at quarterback, but talented weapons on the outside and in the backfield including back Chris Johnson, receivers Percy Harvin, Eric Decker and bruiser Chris Ivory. That’s not to mention the threat a slashing quarterback like Mike Vick posses.
“They definitely have the offense, they have great guys back there at quarterback, guys that can make plays,” continued Jenkins. “So you definitely have to be on your toes and on point. They are very successful at the run. If they are good at something, why change it? They have quarterbacks that can run and a whole bunch of backs and a great O-line (offensive line). If you’re successful at something, I wouldn’t change it.”
In the past four matchups, the road team has emerged victorious, including last season’s Dec. 13 meeting at Met Life Stadium − 23-3, Dolphins. But that’s not something Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin can put his finger on.
“I would certainly love to duplicate what we’ve been doing up there and change what’s been happening down here,” he admitted. “Once the games start, each one of these games has been a little bit different. We played in an overtime game with them the first time. Then we went up there and had some really good things happen special teams wise early in that game a couple of years ago. Last year, I think we started the game with a sack on defense. We didn’t have a lot of points at halftime, and then we made some plays in the second half. Last year, at the end (of the year − Dec. 29), they played better than us, especially in the second half. I couldn’t say there is one specific thing, but each game kind of takes on its own identity.”
The Dolphins are hoping whatever identity the game takes on, it will be in their favor.
This story was written by Steven Wilson. Follow him on Twitter: @StevenJWilson11
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