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of consolation
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The handshakes and backslaps exchanged in the Miami Dolphins locker room late Sunday afternoon were gestures of consolation, not celebration, before players quietly slipped out the back door at the end of another disappointing season. Miami was eliminated from the scramble for the AFCs final wild-card berth by the New York Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals and won 20-7. The Dolphins blew an early lead to complete a December collapse that will keep them out of the playoffs for a fifth straight year. "Its definitely going to take a little while to get over this one," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. New Yorks Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards, while two interceptions by rookie Dee Milliner and one by 35-year-old Ed Reed prevented a Miami comeback. The Dolphins (8-8) squandered a shot at their first post-season berth since 2008 by losing the final two games to non-playoff teams, including a shutout defeat at last-place Buffalo. It was a dismal end to a roller-coaster season that included a four-game losing streak, a bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny, and a December surge that briefly left the Dolphins in control of their playoff destiny -- but turned out to be a tease. "Our record is 8-8, and thats the definition of average," cornerback Brent Grimes said. "We felt like we could be a much better than average team, so were disappointed. We messed up in the last two games. Weve just got to live with that." The Dolphins were outscored 39-7 in those final two games. Now owner Stephen Ross must decide whether to shake up a regime led by second-year coach Joe Philbin and sixth-year general manager Jeff Ireland. "You have to earn your way into the playoffs. Clearly we didnt do that," Philbin said. "The results start with me. The head coach is responsible for the results. The offence, the defence, the special teams, the record -- it starts with me. Lets not stand here and blame the players." The Jets (8-8) celebrated as though theyre playoff-bound but will sit out the post-season for the third year in a row. After the game, owner Woody Johnson announced that coach Rex Ryan would return for a sixth season in 2014. Ryan, whose future had been in question, said Johnson gave him the news before the game. When players were told afterward, they cheered in the locker room. "Ill say this -- I love being the head coach of the New York Jets, plain and simple," Ryan said. "You put everything youve got into it. I never wanted to go out this way. Weve missed the playoffs three straight years, and that bothers me, no question." The Jets made sure they were joined on the post-season sideline by Miami. The only points of the seasons final two weeks for the Dolphins put them ahead 7-0 in the second quarter, but the Jets rallied by mounting touchdown drives of 71 and 80 yards on their final possessions of the first half. When Smith scored on a 7-yard, third-down keeper up the middle with 3 seconds left for a 14-7 lead at halftime, an excited Ryan ran on the field to celebrate with his players. Fans were booing in the first half and streaming for the exits in the final minutes. Smith drove the Jets 63 yards to set up a field goal that gave them a 17-7 cushion with 4:18 left, and on the next play Reed grabbed a deflected pass for his 64th career interception to all but seal the victory. Milliner stopped a Miami threat in the third quarter with a diving interception of Tannehill one play after Mike Wallace dropped a potential touchdown pass that would have tied the game. The Jets played like a team with nothing to lose, which they were, and eager to spoil Miamis season. They kept the Dolphins off balance with swarming defence and imaginative play-calling, including 294-pound defensive lineman Sheldon Richardsons 1-yard plunge for his second rushing touchdown this season. Running back Bilal Powell threw a 30-yard completion to set up the Jets field goal. Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury, while Wallace and Tannehill found it difficult to click all day. Tannehill overthrew an open Wallace deep, and Wallace slipped and fell on Milliners first interception. They did combine for a 5-yard touchdown to cap an 89-yard drive. But the Dolphins running game sputtered, as usual, and Tannehill finished with a woeful passer rating of 42.1. "It cant get worse than this," Wallace said. "We let them win. We let them dominate the game. We knew what we had on the line, and we didnt come up with the plays we needed." Notes: Hartline limped out of the game after a 25-yard reception that put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the second year in a row. ... Jets reserve CB Kyle Wilson left in the first half with a knee injury and didnt return. ... Before the game, former LB-DE Kim Bokamper, WR O.J. McDuffie, RB Mercury Morris and G Keith Sims were inducted into the Dolphins Walk of Fame. Blue Edwards Jersey . -- Jake Paterson made 39 saves as the Saginaw Spirit halted the Guelph Storms seven-game win streak with a 6-3 victory on Sunday in Ontario Hockey League action. Hakim Warrick Jersey . And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions. - The width of Alec Martinezs shin guard was the difference between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks in their playoff series opener. Josh Jackson Jersey . The 19-year-old from Westmount, Que., was edged 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-3 by third-seeded Alize Cornet of France. Cornet broke Bouchard twice in the last set and saved six break points in the three-hour match. Fake Grizzlies Jerseys . -- Jake Peavy arrived at Bostons spring training complex on Monday with a large white bandage covering his left index finger, the result of a weekend accident.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots let Knowshon Moreno run for 134 yards in their season opener. Now they must face Adrian Peterson. Scary? "You know what? I love it," defensive tackle Sealver Siliga said Wednesday. "This is going to be a good test and I think our teams real excited." One week after Moreno led the Miami Dolphins 191-yard rushing attack in a 33-20 win over New England, the Patriots visit Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. "First-game jitters or whatever you want to call it," Patriots linebacker Donta Hightower said. "For us to want to be a great defence, which is something that all of us agreed we wanted to do, you definitely cant allow the offence to run the ball the way they did." The Patriots also had trouble stopping Lamar Miller, who rushed for 59 yards. Now theyre preparing for another one-two punch of Peterson and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Peterson rushed 21 times for 75 yards in last Sundays 34-6 win over the St. Louis Rams after finishing second in the NFL last season with 90.4 yards rushing per game. Patterson ran three times for 102 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown. "Hes definitely a tremendous athlete," Hightower said of Patterson. "You dont see many guys who can do that, come out and play receiver and then actually line up in the backfield and run the ball like a running back." But Peterson is the most dangerous threat to a New England run defence that was weak last season — better than just two teams — and got off to a bad start despite the return of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jared Mayo from injuries that sidelined them most of last season. Mayo led the Patriots with 12 tackles against Miami, but Wilfork had just two and Hightower was limited to just one unassisted tackle. "We were really disappointed but (its) a new week, a new game," said Siliga, who had six tackles. "All we can do is look forward and learn from what happenedd and get ready for the Vikings because thats going to be a tough job.dddddddddddd" The burden will be on the defensive line to wrap Peterson up and not let him get to the linebackers level. Once there, hes liable to take off on another long run. He has 15 runs of 58 yards or more in his seven seasons before this year. Hes run for touchdowns of 64 yards or more in six of those seven seasons. And hes rushed for at least 10 touchdowns every year. "Hes big. Hes fast. Hes strong. Hes smart. He has great vision," Hightower said. "He has everything in a running back that youd want. Its going to take all of our guys being at the point of attack and everybody getting to the ball, so hes not getting that one-on-one matchup to break that tackle and get those extra yards." If Peterson is contained, New England still must contend with new offensive co-ordinator Norv Turners system with Matt Cassel throwing against his former team. Cassel expects the Patriots defence to rebound from their poor performance against the Dolphins. "They always make adjustments and then come back even stronger after a loss," he said. "Im sure there will be changes that they make in terms of scheme and everything else to get it figured out." That still may not be enough to keep the powerful, shifty Peterson from running through their defence. "A guy that big, you wouldnt expect him to be able to hit those cuts and those jump cuts that he does," Hightower said. "But thats something that hes very good at and definitely one of the reasons why hes one of the better backs in the league." Siliga was sidelined for much of the preseason and played against Miami with a heavy wrap on his injured left hand as a precaution. He could be wearing it again Sunday when he tries to tackle Peterson. "Hes hard enough back to take down with two hands, let alone one," Siliga said, "but Im up for the challenge." ___ Online: AP NFL website: and ' ' '

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