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Robert Saleh not happy after miscues sink Jets in loss to Dolphins

Joe Flacco of the Jets throws a pass

Joe Flacco of the Jets throws a pass during the first quarter against the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Robert Saleh’s decision to start Joe Flacco at quarterback didn’t make much of a difference. The Jets couldn’t get out of their own way on Sunday, leaving their coach as frustrated as he has been all season.

Breakdowns on offense, defense, special teams and coaching played large roles as the Jets lost to the Dolphins, 24-17, at MetLife Stadium. They fell to 2-8 with their third straight loss.

"Ninety percent of games in this league are lost, not won," Saleh said. "And this one was lost."

The Jets have dropped their last 10 games against AFC East opponents, but this was one they very easily could have won.

For a change, they were competitive. It was 14-14 heading into the fourth quarter in what turned into a team-wide loss.

Two huge third-down defensive penalties led to the Dolphins’ 10 fourth-quarter points. Saleh called John Franklin-Myers’ roughing-the-passer flag that led to the go-ahead touchdown "unacceptable."

An intentional-grounding penalty by Flacco deep in Miami territory kept the Jets from scoring in the third quarter. Matt Ammendola ended up missing a 40-yard field goal wide left. Earlier in the game, he clanked a 55-yard attempt.

These miscues crushed the Jets, but the coaches weren’t free from blame.

They had the wrong personnel on the field, leading to two third-quarter timeouts. Saleh also changed his mind when Ammendola lined up for a 56-yard field goal in the third quarter, and the Jets were penalized for delay of game.

"Whether you lose by one or 50, it doesn’t freakin’ matter," Saleh said. "This one we lost."

It was a tough week for Saleh, who received criticism for taking the ball out of Mike White’s hands and giving it to Flacco. Saleh felt Flacco had a better chance against the Dolphins’ cover-zero blitzing defense.

There’s a good chance that Zach Wilson will return from a knee injury next week in Houston, but

Flacco played well enough, completing 24 of 39 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice and fumbled once, and that turnover proved huge.

It came with the score 7-7 and the Jets at the Miami 5. Flacco was hit hard from the blind side by Brandon Jones and coughed up the football, with Christian Wilkins recovering it for Miami.

"As an offense, we did some good things, but we just made too many mistakes to win the football game," Flacco said.

The missed opportunity was a bad omen for the Jets. They came up empty three other times when they were in Dolphins’ territory — two missed field goals and the delay of game — and that had Saleh seething.

"I don’t care how good your football team is," said Saleh, who started to curse but caught himself. "I don’t care how good it is. I don’t care if you’re 10-0 or 0-10, it doesn’t matter if you’re losing points. If you’re handing points back and you’re not scoring when you have a chance, you’re not going to win."

Jets rookie receiver Elijah Moore had another good game with eight catches for 141 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown.

Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns. One was a 65-yarder to a wide-open Mack Hollins on a play in which Saleh said the Jets had "poor eye discipline."

Hollins’ explosive score made it 14-7, but Flacco led the Jets down the field. On second-and-4 from the 11, however, he was flagged for intentional grounding. Flacco said it was "a miscommunication with the routes."

The Jets tied it at 14 on the next series, with Flacco connecting with Moore for a 62-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Then the wheels really came off.

On the ensuing drive, the Dolphins had a third-and-4 from the 5 and forced an incomplete pass, but Franklin-Myers hit Tagovailoa late. Miami got a new set of downs and went up 21-14 as Tagovailoa hit Myles Gaskin for a 5-yard touchdown with 10:15 remaining in the game.

"I know I got to be better," a contrite Franklin-Myers said. "That penalty arguably cost us the game. That’s something that can’t happen on my end."

After a three-and-out that ended with Flacco being sacked, the Jets’ defense appeared to have a stop. They sacked Tagovailoa on third down for a 9-yard loss at the Jets’ 40, but Jason Pinnock was called for defensive holding. The drive ended with Jason Sanders kicking a 24-yard field goal with 1:57 left.

"These are all scars that they’re getting and they’re learning," Saleh said. "You got to learn how not to lose first and figure out how to win. Once you learn how to win, then you have to learn how to close games. Today was clearly one of those learning moments of how not to lose."

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