The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

JASON ALLEN LEADS SECOND HALF COLLAPSE

It might seem difficult to chalk up this game to a second-half Fins’ collapse when the Jets opened up a 14-0 lead in the first half, but that’s exactly what happened. The Dolphins managed to right the ship in the first half by scoring the final 10 points, thus enabling them to come out in the second half and grab the lead. However, once they completed their comeback with a Brandon Marshall touchdown reception that gave them a 17-14 lead in the 3rd quarter, a trilogy of bad plays by Jason Allen helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In one short week, Jason Allen went from hero to goat.

On the first play from scrimmage after the Fins had their first lead of the game, Jason Allen got turned around in single coverage on Braylon Edwards and then took a bad angle which enabled Edwards to race down the sideline after the catch for a 67-yard 3rd quarter touchdown which gave the lead right back to the Jets. Coming immediately after the Fins finally grabbed the lead, it was quite deflating. Although the Fins did not fold after that play, they never did regain the lead. And it was Jason Allen who again and again provided comfort to the enemy.

With the Jets in a 3rd and long in the 4th quarter and the Fins trailing only by a point, Jason Allen, who had safety help deep, let Edwards catch one in front of him that gave the Jets a crucial first down. Allen should have been positioned to prohibit the receiver from making the catch in front of him, but he was clearly caught out of position. Moments later on the same drive that his second gaffe had already prolonged, he got caught on a pass interference penalty on a 3rd down in the end zone when he had his back turned (on a ball that he easily could have batted down or picked off had he been looking for the ball). Once again, it was all about being out of position. Having given the Jets a gift first and goal at the 1-yard line with a little over 2 minutes remaining, the game looked very bleak. Moments later the Jets ran it in from the 1 to take a 31-23 lead with 1:55 remaining.

Although the Fins mounted a drive and threatened to score a touchdown that would have given them a chance to tie the game with a 2-point conversion, they came up short on 4th and 9 when Chad Henne suffered his first interception of the season on a pass that he unsuccessfully tried to squeeze into Anthony Fasano just inside the end zone. And so it was, the Dolphins could not overcome the trilogy of crucial second half mistakes by cornerback Jason Allen.

It was not only a shame for the Dolphins who would have retained sole possession of first place with a win, but it was also a shame for Jason Allen whose play the last 2 weeks since he was named a starter had begun to open some eyes. Against the Jets, Allen would have been better off if Dolfans had their eyes closed. His second half play was so poor that one has to wonder whether if it will open the door for Sean Smith to get another shot at the starting cornerback position opposite Vontae Davis when the Patriots come to town next Monday Night.

It wasn’t just Jason Allen who didn’t play well. The defense which had been so tough in victories over Minnesota and Buffalo, surrendered 31 points and 402 yards to the Jets. The Jets converted 55% of their 3rd down situations. In the process QB Mark Sanchez threw 3 TD passes and had a 120.5 rating, which was well above his career average. The Fins’ defense surrendered 146 yards rushing (5.0 per carry) and failed to get a turnover for the first time this season. The 31 points allowed were 11 more than the defense had surrendered in the first 2 games combined. In reality the defense could only be properly charged with 28 points as the field goal surrendered following a blocked punt that gave the Jets possession at the Fins’ 17-yard line could hardly be counted against the defense. Forcing a field goal in that situation was a credit to the defense.

The blocked punt was not the only evidence of inadequate special teams play. Further evidence was provided by the 37.5-yard average on kickoff returns and the kickoff out of bounds which gave the Jets the ball at the Fins’ 40-yard line.

For Dolfans wanting to see QB Chad Henne lead the offense, Sunday was a good start. He threw for 363 yards and completed 59.1% of his passes (26 for 44). He threw touchdown passes to Anthony Fasano and Brandon Marshall and played well against a very tough Jets’ defense that often times pressured him with a variety of blitz packages. He connected with Brandon Marshall 10 times for 166 yards. The interception on 4th down at the bitter end was a pass that was catchable by Anthony Fasano, but was stolen away by the defense in tight coverage. It is hard to fault Henne on that one since it was a do or die situation (with the Fins needing a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie) and the Jets had dropped 8 defenders into the red zone coverage, thus leaving very little open space in the end zone.

In the final analysis, the real story of this night was the crucial trilogy of mistakes by Jason Allen which first helped the Jets retake the lead thereby changing the momentum and  then all but sealed the Fins’ fate. In baseball parlance, Jason Allen took 3 called strikes. Now we’ll see if his strikeout results in Coach Sparano striking his name from the starting lineup next week.

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