Moore sets career high with 4 TDs as Miami routs Jets
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 66 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.
“There were some nerves and maybe it showed a little early,” said Moore, whose wife gave birth to son Wyatt Monday. “We started slow, but got in the groove in the middle part. Once we got going, that negative stuff wore offf and I got on a roll. Credit these guys for getting us going and making plays. Once those guys got the ball in their hands, it was impressive.”
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 injured his chest.
For good measure, the Dolphins threw in an 11-yard blocked punt return touchdown by Walt Aiken.
“The defense did a great job with turnovers, just causing problems,” coach Adam Gase said. “The pressure was relentless. And Walt is a guy making a huge impact on special teams, just now it’s resulting in points.”
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 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.
“He has that knack of timing,” Gase said about Wake. “He knows there are moments that can swing a game.”
Those plays 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.
“Oh, they were prepared, but when we play like that, it all falls on me,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “It starts at the top. I’ve got to do a better job, and they’ve got to do a better job. But it starts with me.”
THOUSANDS UPONS THOUSANDS
Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry went over 1,000 yards for the second time in his three-year career. Landry made three catches for 108 yards and now has 1,031.
Miami running back Jay Ajayi rushed for only 51 yards, but that was enough to boost the second-year player to 1,007.