EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — All that dismal 0-16 talk is over. And, the New York Jets ended it early with a stunningly dominant performance.
Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, Bilal Powell ran for a score, and the Jets’ defence frustrated Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins in a 20-6 victory Sunday in New York’s home opener.
"Oh, man, it was awesome," McCown said. "It was special."
While a lot of the focus from many fans and media heading into the season was on whether the revamped Jets roster would be good enough to win any games , New York made Miami look like the team in the middle of a rebuild.
"We’ve always had confidence," said rookie safety Jamal Adams, who had one of the Jets’ three sacks. "We’re not where we want to be, but this is the start of it."
McCown finished 18 of 23 for 249 yards, Chandler Catanzaro kicked two field goals, and the Jets (1-2) forced Cutler and the Dolphins (1-1) into mistakes all game. The Jets also avoided their first 0-3 start since 2003.
"Relief? Great feeling? Whatever you want to say," McCown said. "When you win, it’s a great feeling. Internally, there’s a method that we go about and then there’s obviously an external narrative that people have for this team. We’ve not bought that.
"So, for us, to say it’s a relief, it was not an expectation that it was going to be hard to win a game this year. We expected to win games. We expect to win a lot of games."
New York just missed having its first shutout since blanking Cincinnati 37-0 on Jan. 13, 2010. Cutler threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker on the final play. Cody Parkey missed the extra point, capping a miserable day for Miami in 88-degree heat at MetLife Stadium.
"They just beat the (heck) out of us," coach Adam Gase said. "That’s the best way to put it. We didn’t show up, didn’t play physical."
Cutler, making his second start for Miami, struggled to connect with his receivers throughout. Miami failed to convert its first eight third-down opportunities, not getting one until early in the fourth quarter, and finished 1 for 12.
Cutler was 26 of 44 for 220 yards with an interception and the TD toss. Miami was outgained in total yards 336-225.
"I think that game was a wakeup call for us," Cutler said. "We can’t just roll it out there and expect it to happen."
A solid drive on New York’s second possession stalled at the Dolphins 32, and Catanzaro shanked a 45-yard field goal attempt wide left, leaving the game scoreless.
The Jets finally took their first lead of the season on Catanzaro’s 40-yarder with 7:17 remaining in the half.
New York went ahead 10-0 on McCown’s perfectly placed pass to Anderson, who caught the ball in stride and sped into the end zone for a 69-yard score . The play came right after a long run by Powell was wiped out by a questionable holding penalty on centre Wesley Johnson.
"Guys were all mad," McCown said of the penalty. "And I was like, ‘Guys, let’s go get ’em the next play."’
Powell leaped into the end zone from 1 yard to make it 17-0 on the Jets’ first possession of the second half. The drive was kept alive by defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas — lining up as a fullback throughout the game — catching a 15-yard pass on third-and-1.
New York shut down Cutler and the Dolphins on the next drive, and Matt Haack tried a fake punt. His pass was picked off by Terrence Brooks, who had two interceptions in the game. The play cost the Jets 21 yards because Brooks chose to intercept the ball rather than just knock it down.
The Jets still got another score, though, this time on a 22-yarder by Catanzaro. It was actually Catanzaro’s second made field goal of the drive, but Miami’s William Hayes was called for an illegal formation penalty on the Jets kicker’s 46-yarder — prolonging the possession for New York.
ON THE ROAD: The game marked the second of three road trips to open the season for the Dolphins, who had their season opener at home vs. Tampa Bay postponed because of Hurricane Irma. Miami will play New Orleans next weekend in London before making a home debut against Tennessee.
"All I know is you’ve got to line up on Sunday and play," Gase said. "If someone has an issue with that, they better check their profession."
SHUT DOWN: After running for 122 yards in the Dolphins’ opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, Jay Ajayi managed just 16 yards on 11 carries against the Jets.
"You watched the game," Gase said. "He couldn’t get through anything. Guys were in the backfield so fast."
ASJ IS A-OK: Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins made his season debut after being suspended for the first two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy while with Tampa Bay last year. He finished with five catches for 31 yards.
DOLPHIN DEBUT?: Linebacker Stephone Anthony , acquired last week from New Orleans when Lawrence Timmons was suspended indefinitely, was active for Miami but did not play.
Dolphins: vs. New Orleans in London.
Jets: home vs. Jacksonville.