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Jets' defense stiffens in the red zone, allowing zero TDs

Jets outside linebackers Brandon Copeland and James Burgess

Jets outside linebackers Brandon Copeland and James Burgess separate Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson during the first half at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

The Dolphins were in the red zone. So what else was new?

The Jets held them to a field goal. So what else was new?

When the Jets held Miami to three points this time, there was only 1:33 left. It gave the Dolphins a two-point lead, but it could have been worse. And it gave the Jets enough time to drive for Sam Ficken’s winning 44-yard field goal as time expired.

The Jets edged the Dolphins, 22-21, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and a big reason was the stone wall they constructed in the red zone. They turned it into a three-point zone.

“We’ve just got a different attitude when we get in that red zone,” rookie cornerback Bless Austin said. “We get in that red zone . . .   It’s time to step up, make sure they don’t cross our end zone. It’s our end zone.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 245 yards, ran for 65 and led Miami on six trips inside the Jets’ 20-yard line. The Dolphins had been very proficient there of late, but they got zero touchdowns this time. Jason Sanders was 5-for-6 on field goals from balls snapped inside the 20 and ended up kicking seven.

“We did a lot of film study, [viewing] a lot of their tendencies in the red zone,” said inside linebacker James Burgess, who had 13 tackles and broke up a pass on third down — where else but in the red zone. “[We wanted to] keep everything in the front of us [instead of] being behind our heads.”

Miami started its last drive at its 25 with 4:05 remaining. Soon it was first-and-10 at the Jets’ 15 with 1:55 left.

Burgess stopped Patrick Laird’s run for a 2-yard loss. Jordan Jenkins sacked Fitzpatrick for a 3-yard loss. Miami ran Laird up the middle on third-and-15 and Tarell Basham held him to a 1-yard gain. The Jets used their timeouts after each play before Sanders’ go-ahead 37-yarder.

“We shouldn’t have let them get that far,” Burgess said. “We were hoping for a three-and-out. But holding them to field goals — you hold teams to field goals in this league, you’ll win.”

Fitzpatrick passed some credit the Jets’ way.

“They did a nice job defensively,” he said. “We came in pretty hot in the red area with the way we were able to convert those drives into touchdowns. It just didn’t happen today.”

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