Allegre's kick gives Jets final word on playoffs Miami falls, 23-20, on overtime FG

December 23, 1991|By Timothy W. Smith | Timothy W. Smith,New York Times News Service

MIAMI -- The New York Jets heard a lot of talk last week, most of it bad.

It came from fans who didn't think they had played well enough to be in a position to make the National Football League playoffs. It came from Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Clayton, who guaranteed absolutely that the Dolphins would win the game yesterday afternoon and make the playoffs, leaving the Jets in their wake.

The New York players remained silent during the week, deciding to let their play against the Dolphins speak for them.

Yesterday afternoon, before 69,636 fans at Joe Robbie Stadium, the Jets talked back, and more important, they got in the last word, beating the Dolphins, 23-20, on a 30-yard field goal by Raul Allegre with 7 minutes, 27 seconds to play in overtime.

In doing so, they claimed the final AFC wild-card playoff spot.

The Jets will face the Oilers, winners of the AFC Central Division, in a first-round playoff game at Houston next weekend, and the Raiders and the Chiefs, the AFC's two other wild-card teams, will play at Kansas City.

"We might be the ugliest girl at the dance," Jets defensive end Marvin Washington said of the Jets' entrance into the playoffs, "but we're going to put on our ruby-red lipstick and our pumps and our miniskirt, and we're not going to stand on the wall. We're going to dance."

The last time the Jets were at the dance, in 1986, they kicked up a little dust. As a wild-card entry, they beat Kansas City, 35-15, at Giants Stadium in the first round, then lost to Cleveland, 23-20, in double overtime at Cleveland Stadium the next week in a divisional playoff game.

Bruce Coslet, the Jets coach, saw enough of his team yesterday afternoon to know that anything is possible.

"Don't count us out," Coslet said. "I've learned never to count these players out. They don't count me out. That's why we're on our way, maybe not this year where we want to be, but we're on our way to having a hell of a franchise."

And what of the talk from Clayton, who guaranteed the Dolphins victory?

"He's no Broadway Joe," said Jets free safety Lonnie Young. "He doesn't play for the Jets."

"He made a very bold statement, and he put his team's head on the chopping block," said Jets cornerback Mike Brim. "This victory probably hurts him more than anybody else in the other locker room."

Clayton had seven receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown. But it wasn't enough.

The Jets' victory was delivered, in part, by a nine-year veteran running back whose thunder had become more like a distance echo, a soft-spoken defensive end who took it upon himself to make Miami quarterback Dan Marino's life miserable and a substitute kicker who was signed last Tuesday and made more friends on the team in one afternoon than he had in the previous five days.

It also didn't hurt that the Jets' defense held Miami to just 46 yards rushing and the Dolphins lost two starting offensive linemen with knee injuries during the game.

Jets running back Johnny Hector, the 31-year-old who was pressed into service when starter Blair Thomas went out early in the second quarter with a sprained ankle, had 13 carries for 132 yards.

That was a little more than half of the Jets' total rushing yards (231), and it gave Hector his best game since he rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries against San Diego in 1989.

Defensive end Dennis Byrd sacked Marino 2 1/2 times and later talked about elevating his game because he couldn't "wait for someone else to make great plays."

And Allegre, signed to replace injured starter Pat Leahy, hit three of four field-goal attempts and especially proved to be worth the investment when he made a 44-yarder with no time left in regulation to tie the score at 20-20 and force the overtime. In overtime, he kicked the 30-yarder for the victory.

In the fourth quarter, the Jets showed remarkable resiliency when they discovered that they would have to match scores with Miami -- and eventually outscore the Dolphins -- to win.

Clinging to a 14-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Jets began feeling Miami's heat when Dolphin kicker Pete Stoyanovich kicked a 33-yarder with 12:06 to play in the quarter to make it 14-13.

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