The Jets were very close to one of their ugliest losses in a season that has been filled with them.
They let a 10-point lead disappear and needed a few breaks to escape MetLife Stadium with a win on Sunday. They got them, and Sam Ficken’s 44-yard field goal with no time remaining gave the Jets a 22-21 victory over the Dolphins.
It was a rare sight all the way around. The Jets had two calls overturned in their favor by official review, and coach Adam Gase could be seen cracking a smile both in the postgame news conference and in the relieved and happy locker room.
“Nobody ever quit,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Nobody started pointing fingers. We didn’t have guys finger-pointing like we had in the past.
“I saw a couple of fans get up and probably think, ‘Here we go again,’ ” he added. “This team, we fight together. There’s no cliques. Everyone embraces one another. Everyone treats everyone with respect. Ultimately, we’re not going to split apart. We’re not going to falter. We just play together.”
Despite all the good feelings after their first division win, the Jets (5-8) were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the ninth straight year when the Steelers and Titans won.
That was inevitable after a 1-7 start that included a loss to the previously winless Dolphins. But the Jets avenged last month’s loss to Miami (3-10) and Gase captured his first victory over the team that fired him after last season.
The defense, which for the first time in three seasons was without Jamal Adams because of an ankle injury, had a huge game. Jason Sanders kicked seven field goals to account for all of the Dolphins’ points, but the Jets kept Miami out of the end zone.
The offense, which was without running back Le’Veon Bell for the first time this season, thanks to a case of the flu, had some rough moments. But the Jets made critical plays and had two calls go their way.
The first one was a 14-yard touchdown reception by Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter that initially was ruled incomplete before official review overturned the call.
The bigger reversal came with less than a minute to go and the Jets out of timeouts.
Sam Darnold threw to Vyncint Smith on third-and-18 from the Dolphins’ 46, and Nik Needham broke it up.
Because it was under two minutes, the Jets couldn’t challenge for pass interference. The NFL chose to review it, and the call on the field of incomplete was changed to defensive pass interference.
“It was clear and obvious that the receiver did get significantly hindered prior to the ball getting there,” Al Riveron, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, told a pool reporter.
That huge swing gave the Jets a first down and some much-needed life. Instead of fourth-and-18 from the Dolphins’ 46, the Jets had first-and-10 at the 38.
“It’s just trash,” Needham said.
On first down, with 43 seconds left, Darnold threw a short pass to Ty Montgomery that resulted in a 12-yard gain. Montgomery got out of bounds to stop the clock.
The Jets ran it on first down and Darnold spiked the ball on second down to stop the clock with three seconds left. Out came Ficken, who made the game-winner.
“This is definitely the best moment I’ve had in my pro career,” said Ficken, who is in his third season. “It feels really good.”
Darnold completed 20 of 36 passes for 270 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Robby Anderson caught seven passes for 116 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown.
The Dolphins went ahead 18-16 with 6:59 remaining on Sanders’ sixth field goal. Ficken’s 42-yard field goal gave the Jets a 19-18 lead with 4:05 left.
Anderson had some big plays on that series. He made three catches for 38 yards and helped prevent an interception when Darnold underthrew him.
Sanders put the Dolphins ahead 21-19 when he kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:37 left, but Gregg Williams’ defense again kept Miami out of the end zone.
“The job they did in the red zone was impressive,” Gase said.
The Jets’ final drive began at their 25-yard line with 1:29 left. On first down, Darnold connected with Smith on a 37-yard catch-and-run to the Miami 38.
Darnold then threw an incomplete pass and was sacked on second down for an 8-yard loss. On third down, he appeared to throw another incompletion, but the officials reversed the call and the Jets took it from there.
“I shouldn’t be taking sacks in the last two minutes, especially when we don’t have timeouts, so that was bad by me,” Darnold said. “But our guys, like they did all game, they were resilient and we just kept pushing.”