MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Jets’ fourth-quarter collapse against the Dolphins was so stunning that coach Todd Bowles said his group lacked a killer instinct, a position supported by several players.
After controlling the tempo for much of the afternoon, the Jets blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, fell apart offensively and defensively and lost their poise at critical moments.
After Jets quarterback Josh McCown threw an interception in the final minute, Cody Parkey kicked a 39-yard field goal with 22 seconds left as Miami rallied with 17 fourth-quarter points to shock the Jets, 31-28, on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
McCown threw three touchdown passes, but that interception will haunt him.
With the score tied at 28, the Jets got the ball at their 15 with 47 seconds left. On the first play, McCown’s pass toward the left sideline, intended for Jermaine Kearse, was badly underthrown, and Miami’s Bobby McCain intercepted it at the 23. He was brought down at the 17.
Four plays later, Parkey put Miami (4-2) ahead and handed the Jets (3-4) a second straight tough loss against a division foe.
“It’s a sick feeling,” said McCown, who ran for a 1-yard touchdown, threw TD passes to Kearse, Robby Anderson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and was 17-for-27 for 209 yards. “You come out on the road and get going like we did and build a lead like we did, to finish it like that is frustrating. It’s a sick feeling.”
Bowles was steaming on the sideline, and for good reason. His team committed a season-high 12 penalties for 124 yards. The offense had minus-4 yards in the fourth quarter and 81 total yards in the second half.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We had a chance to finish and we didn’t finish. Too many mistakes, too many blunders. At some point, we got to develop some killer instinct to finish the ballgame.”
Rookie safety Jamal Adams agreed. He added, “At the same time, we got to be disciplined. We had so many penalties. If you make penalties like that, you’re bound to lose a ballgame.”
Penalties stalled drives when the Jets needed to work the clock to finish the game, and cornerback Buster Skrine twice was called for defensive holding on the drive that tied it at 28.
The Jets looked as if they were well on their way to a season sweep of the Dolphins when they took a 28-14 lead on Seferian-Jenkins’ 10-yard TD catch with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
The defense was outstanding for three quarters and finished with three sacks, a season-high 12 quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss. They knocked out Jay Cutler with a chest injury in the third quarter. Much-maligned defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson intercepted a pass that had been batted by Adams, leading to McCown’s 1-yard run for a 21-14 lead with 1:51 to play in the first half.
The Jets had success running the ball, finishing with 92 yards and an average of 4.2 yards per carry. Offensive coordinator John Morton used a mixture of Bilal Powell (43 yards on nine carries) and Matt Forte (41 yards on seven carries).
But it all fell apart for the Jets.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s young guys or old guys, we got to do our job and don’t relax or get complacent because the game is 28-14,” Forte said. “When we get to the fourth quarter, we got to finish the game out.”
With Cutler out, backup Matt Moore gave the Dolphins a spark. He was 13-for-21 for 188 yards and two touchdown passes to Kenny Stills. In the fourth quarter, the Jets’ defense gave up 17 points and pass plays of 29, 28 and 22 yards.
“They did a few things different in the second half,” safety Marcus Maye said. “We got to find a way to adjust. It’s something we got to figure out and get it done.”
The Jets not only lost the game, they lost their cool.
Anderson — who earlier jumped into the stands and took a seat to celebrate his TD catch — was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for throwing his helmet with eight seconds left after an incompletion.
It was a frustrating finish to a frustrating fourth quarter.
“We need to finish. That is a key thing with us,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “ . . . If we don’t fix it, this is what will happen. We’ve got to finish. If we don’t want to finish, we will not win games.”