Jets beat Dolphins despite 2 late errors Interception, fumble don't ruin 17-16 upset

October 23, 1995|By Dave Caldwell | Dave Caldwell,KNIGHT-RIDDER NEWS SERVICE

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The NFL season is now officially weird. Those goofy, hapless stumble-bums known as the New York Jets did something crazy and totally bizarre yesterday.

They won.

They managed only 200 yards in offense. They made two first downs in the first half. A 66-yard run and a 13-yard sack were wiped out by penalties. Their quarterback, Bubby Brister, did his best to give away the game in the last five minutes -- throwing an interception and bobbling a snap to end another drive.

And still they won.

A week after being embarrassed by the expansion Carolina Panthers, Rich Kotite's Jets beat the Dan Marino-less Miami Dolphins, 17-16, at Giants Stadium.

It was the Jets' first victory of the year over a team that existed before the 1995 season. Their only victory since last Nov. 27 -- when Marino threw a last-minute touchdown pass to beat the Jets -- had been a 27-10 triumph Sept. 17 over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After the game, Kotite calmly walked over to Miami coach Don Shula and shook his hand. The former Eagles coach seemed more relieved than jubilant.

"It's been a long time coming," Kotite said later.

The Dolphins (4-3), losers of three straight, were out of sync the entire second half. Shula made a mistake by opting to kick an extra point instead of going for two after Terry Kirby's 2-yard touchdown plunge gave Miami a 15-10 lead with 2:09 left in the third quarter.

Under relentless pressure from the Jets' defensive line (and rookie Hugh Douglas in particular), Bernie Kosar, the 31-year-old Miami quarterback who is about as mobile as a potted plant, threw three interceptions after halftime and ended another drive by flipping an illegal forward pass to Chris Gray, who happens to play right guard for Miami.

The Jets got their kick-start from returner Dexter Carter, a free agent from San Francisco who was looking like another in a series of Jets busts. Carter nearly fumbled away the first punt that was kicked to him, and Jets fans let him have it.

But Carter's 57-yard kickoff return at the start of the second half got the Jets on the move -- and into Miami territory for the first time since the 9-minute mark of the first quarter.

Five plays later, Brister hit rookie Wayne Chrebet with a 12-yard touchdown pass, and the Dolphins' lead was 9-7.

Nick Lowery's 50-yard field goal gave the Jets the lead four minutes later, but Miami took the lead back on Kirby's touchdown run.

Helped immensely by a 31-yard return by Carter, the Jets marched 61 yards in nine plays, with Brister flipping a 3-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Mitchell with 13:05 left in the game.

It was the Jets' first fourth-quarter touchdown since last Nov. 20. That was 14 games ago.

It got hairy down the stretch. With 5:37 left, Jets end Wayne Washington sacked Kosar and slapped away the ball, and Douglas pounced on it. But three plays later, Brister woefully under-threw a pass to Chrebet, and Miami cornerback Troy Vincent wrested the ball away from Chrebet.

Six plays after the interception, Kosar flipped a pass to wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams slipped. Cornerback Vance Joseph, who just last year was a backup quarterback at Colorado, intercepted the pass and returned it 39 yards.

But three plays after that, Brister mishandled the snap from Cal Dixon, lost 9 yards on third-and-one, and the Jets had to punt. Finally, Douglas got to Kosar and pressured him into a throw even more wobbly than usual. Victor Green picked it off for New York.

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