EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For a team in turmoil, this was one therapeutic win.
It certainly wasn’t pretty or convincing. But it did the job for Rex Ryan and his feuding New York Jets.
Darrelle Revis ran back the first of his two interceptions 100 yards for a touchdown and the Jets did just enough to beat the winless Miami Dolphins 24-6 on Monday night and end a three-game losing streak.
Mark Sanchez threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and ran for another score as the Jets — who called this a “must-win” game — capped a tough week by pulling out a victory and sending the Dolphins to their fifth straight loss.
With the losses mounting and the season already on the brink of spinning out of control for the Jets (3-3), they traded wide receiver Derrick Mason to Houston and then had to deal with some infighting as Holmes called out the offensive line for not giving Sanchez enough time to throw deep. Right guard Brandon Moore fired back, saying those comments could have a “fragmenting effect” and were not what a captain, which Holmes is, should do.
Ryan, who insisted his team’s Super Bowl hopes would not be undone by locker room disharmony, even sent Holmes and Moore out as the captains for the pregame coin toss.
Turns out, this game against the Dolphins (0-5) came at just the right time as the Jets got their season back on track. Next up for New York: the San Diego Chargers (4-1) on Sunday, with a chance to head into the bye on a high note.
Sanchez, who has also taken lots of criticism, finished 14 of 25 for 201 yards and the touchdown pass to Holmes, and Shonn Greene ran for 74 yards on 21 carries.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are 0-5 to start a season for the second time in five years, and things are looking an awful lot like 2007 — when Miami went 1-15. The heat on Dolphins coach Tony Sparano could intensify now, with some already calling for his job before this game.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall couldn’t even live up to his promise to get ejected sometime in the second quarter. He also said he might even start a fight with Jets linebacker Bart Scott or cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
It was all talk.
But that’s what many fans and media were wondering of the struggling Jets. And, they did little to convince them otherwise as their anemic offense went three-and-out on their first two possessions.
The Dolphins got on the scoreboard first on Dan Carpenter’s 23-yard field goal midway through the opening quarter.
After a 20-yard catch by Marshall put the ball at the 10, Daniel Thomas ran for 5 yards before Matt Moore threw incomplete into the end zone to Anthony Fasano and Marshall on consecutive plays as Miami settled for the field goal.
Moore, starting for the injured Chad Henne who’s out for the season after shoulder surgery, was 16 of 34 for 204 yards and two interceptions. Marshall had six catches for 109 yards, but was kept out of the end zone. Reggie Bush, who left in the third quarter with his right arm hanging at his side — it was announced as a neck injury — had 71 yards rushing and two catches for 7 yards.
The night appeared to be taking an awful turn for the Jets when they lost the ensuing kickoff after the field goal when it bounced off blocker Garrett McIntyre — standing in front of returner Joe McKnight — and was recovered by Austin Spitler.
After two runs by Thomas for 3 yards, Moore threw at Marshall in the end zone, but Revis stepped in front of the pass and returned it untouched 100 yards to make it 7-3.
The return tied for the longest in franchise history, first set by Aaron Glenn in 1996, also against Miami. It was also the longest interception runback in the league this season.
Carpenter’s 21-yard field goal early in the second quarter made it 7-6, capping a nine-play, 77-yard drive that was helped by Marshall’s 46-yard catch along the left sideline — in which he stepped out of bounds at the Jets 35 — and a 15-yard reception by Lex Hilliard. On third down at the Jets 3, Moore went to Marshall in the end zone but his toss was slightly behind him and the ball wen t off the receiver’s hands.
The Jets opened with four straight three-and-outs for the second consecutive game before getting things going late in the first half. On third-and-9 from the Jets 20, Jeremy Kerley caught a 14-yard pass for New York’s initial first down of the game, with 6:17 left in the half.
The Jets got three more first downs, including Holmes’ 20-yard reception that got the ball to the 11. Two plays later, LaDainian Tomlinson gained 9 yards on a shovel pass. Sanchez, lined up in the shotgun, took two steps and then zipped forward and dived into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown to give New York a 14-6 lead with 1:14 left in the opening half.
Nick Folk kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 17-6 with 4:15 left in the third quarter, capping a 13-play, 79-yard drive that took nearly half the period.
Holmes’ 38-yard grab early in the fourth quarter sealed it for the Jets after Sanchez bought some time with his feet and found the receiver, who easily outran linebacker Cameron Wake and made a few nice moves on his way into the end zone to put New York up 24-6.