McCown, defense lead Jets to dominant 20-6 victory

New York Jets' Elijah McGuire (25) fumbles after Miami Dolphins' Byron Maxwell (41) stripped the ball during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Dolphins recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(TSX / STATS) — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There has been plenty of talk in the early going about the New York Jets, and nearly all of it has been negative.

There were even murmurs of a winless season after losses in Buffalo and Oakland to start the year.

But for at least one sun-kissed Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, with the temperature in the high 80s at kickoff, all was right in the world for the Jets and their fans, as they dominated the weary-looking Miami Dolphins in their home opener, 20-6.

And the talk that this might be the worst team in the NFL? That’s over, for now.

The Jets narrowly avoided earning their first shutout since Jan. 3, 2010, a 37-0 win over the Bengals, when Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler hit DeVante Parker with an insignificant touchdown pass as time expired.

Jets quarterback Josh McCown threw for 249 yards, including a 69-yard bomb to Robby Anderson. Bilal Powell ran for his first touchdown of the season, and Chandler Catanzaro made two field goals.

After getting torched for a league-worst 370 rushing yards through the first two weeks, the Jets held Miami Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi to 16 yards on 11 carries one week after he went for 122 yards and two touchdowns against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jets safety Terrence Brooks intercepted a pass on a fake punt in the third quarter and picked off Cutler in the fourth quarter, while rookie Jamal Adams recorded his first career sack.

With 7:17 left in the second quarter, the Jets took their first lead of the season when Catanzaro hit a 40-yard field goal to cap a nine-play drive.

Long drives were a staple for the Jets on Sunday, as they dominated in time of possession, 36:08-23:52, and total yards, 336-225, with most of Miami’s coming in garbage time.

McCown, the Jets’ 38-year-old quarterback and Cutler’s former backup with the Bears, connected with second-year speedster Anderson on a beautifully thrown ball to give the Jets a 10-0 lead with 1:51 left in the first half. The play was more than double the Jets’ longest offensive play of the season through the first two weeks.

The Dolphins (1-1) looked like a tired team, and while nobody will make excuses in the NFL, you can’t really blame them. In the last month, Miami has played preseason games in Philadelphia and Minnesota. The Dolphins had their Week 1 game against Tampa Bay postponed due to Hurricane Irma, and then they practiced in California leading up to last week’s game in Los Angeles against the Chargers. Next week, they have to go to London to play the Saints.

Cutler finished 26 of 44 for 220 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

NOTES: Jets TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins started for the Jets after serving a two-game suspension for his 2016 DUI arrest. He made catches on back-to-back plays in the first quarter and finished with five receptions for 31 yards. … Jets K Chandler Catanzaro missed his first field-goal attempt of the season, a 45-yarder in the first quarter. … Jets DE Lawrence Thomas lined up as a fullback on a handful of plays, and made a catch for 15 yards. … Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi was injured on Miami’s second offensive play when he was wrapped up by Jamal Adams, but he returned on the next series. … Dolphins DE Cameron Wake recorded his first sack of the season after he had 11.5 in 2016.

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