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Dolphins send Jets to 2nd straight loss, 10-6

Chris Clemons of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after

Chris Clemons of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after Santonio Holmes of the Jets dropped a touchdown during the 2nd quarter at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sunday, (Dec. 12, 2010) Credit: Newsday / David Pokress

Dustin Keller probably didn't really want to admit it, given all the bad memories.

Still, the tight end couldn't deny that things revolving around the Jets have a eerie feel, one that's similar to the way it was in 2008, when the Jets started out 8-3, dropped four of five and missed the playoffs.

"Yeah, a little similar feel," Keller said after the Jets lost their second straight, falling to the Dolphins, 10-6, at New Meadowlands Stadium yesterday. "But we are not going to let it get to that point. We have three more games left in the season before the playoffs - God willing.

"But we've got to get back to the good football we were playing in Weeks 2 through 5 or whatever. We're perfectly capable of that. It's just every man being accountable for his job."

Perhaps, but the latest loss for the Jets (9-4) falls squarely on the offense, which failed to capitalize on three turnovers produced by the defense. The Jets mustered only field goals of 35 and 42 yards by Nick Folk.

They had a bevy of dropped passes - one by a wide-open Santonio Holmes in the end zone that would've been a sure touchdown - and untimely penalties and never got into any kind of sustained rhythm.

Mark Sanchez was subpar for the third straight game, throwing an interception for the eighth game in a row and completing 17 of 44 passes for 216 yards. He fumbled four times, losing one, and was sacked six times.

"It makes you sick," said Sanchez, whose team trailed 10-3 at the break after Miami scored all of its points off his turnovers. "I'm really upset. I think the team is too, but we squandered an opportunity today. We had plenty of chances to win, we just didn't capitalize on offense. It's unfortunate, especially when your defense plays as well as they did. But it starts with the quarterback on offense. These past two weeks, I haven't played like I played earlier in the season. It starts with me and I need to be the guy to turn it around."

Even with their poor offensive showing, the Jets had one final shot to squeak past Miami (7-6). The Jets' final drive began at their 25 with 2:16 left, putting them in familiar territory, given their penchant for pulling out last-minute victories during their four-game winning streak.

But the Jets couldn't move past their own 47, and Sanchez was sacked on fourth-and-16 by Cameron Wake at the 34 for a 7-yard loss, sending a cascade of boos down from the upper reaches of the $1.6-billion stadium.

"We are out there fighting and had every confidence we were going to drive down the field and score," Nick Mangold said. "And we came up short. It's horribly disappointing that we did."

Nothing was more of a microcosm of the way things have gone for the Jets of late than what happened after Calvin Pace sacked Miami's Chad Henne and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Jets' Sione Pouha at the Miami 38 in the second quarter. The Jets were poised to cash in six plays later when on third-and-10 from the 17, Sanchez dropped back and waited for Holmes to finish off his double move.

Dolphins cornerback Nolan Holmes bit hard on the inside move, leaving Holmes wide open as he streaked toward the left back pylon. But he let the ball slip right through his hands, dropping an easy touchdown pass that could've cut the deficit to three. Instead, they settled for a field goal and a 10-3 deficit.

"There is no explanation for it," he said. "It happened. Inexcusable. No excuses. Dropped the ball. Simple as that . . . I should have caught the ball for a touchdown and I didn't. I don't have no excuses. I dropped the ball. I'll make up for it next time."

But the Jets can't keep using that mentality, not with road games against Pittsburgh and Chicago on the horizon. "I'm very concerned," Rex Ryan said. "You look at our next opponent [Pittsburgh], and if you think this defense is good, just wait until next week. Pittsburgh is going to be a huge challenge, and down the road, we need to make sure we find a way to get better. We have to get better."

Otherwise, they might find themselves on the outside of the postseason picture looking in - just like 2008.

"These next three games are the most important three games of the season," Antonio Cromartie said. "The month of December, you have to win. If you are not winning in December, you are not going to make it into January."

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