The Miami wide receiver took out his frustration on the New York Jets, returning two long kickoffs for touchdowns in the third quarter, and the Dolphins’ defense held on for a 30-25 victory Sunday.
“Not being in that starting lineup hurt me deep down inside,” Ginn said. “I just wanted to make plays. You don’t always have to be a starter to make plays.”
Ginn certainly made that point loud and clear.
Benched in favor of rookie Brian Hartline(notes), Ginn made all the difference on special teams by returning kickoffs of 100 and 101 yards for scores. He also became the first player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same quarter since Green Bay’s Travis Williams(notes) in 1967, according to STATS LLC.
“To be who I am and to have played as many games as I have as a starter, I had to do things on the other end to keep me confident,” the 2007 first-round draft pick said. “Being a pro, you understand things happen. I got my mind right.”
He also helped Miami (3-4) sweep the two regular-season games against the Jets (4-4) in the teams’ second meeting in 20 days.
Maybe so, especially when the Jets’ defense shut down the Dolphins’ wildcat formation and held Miami to just 104 yards of total offense compared to New York’s 378.
“Sometimes things just don’t make sense,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “Statistically, this game isn’t going to look close.”
It was one more shot in a tense rivalry reignited by a big heap of trash talk from both sides. It was ramped up after Jets linebacker Calvin Pace(notes) called the Dolphins’ wildcat “nonsense” after Miami’s 31-27 win on Oct. 12. The bad feelings were evident even before the game, when the Jets’ Kerry Rhodes(notes) and a few Dolphins players got into a shoving match during warmups.
But, this time, the Dolphins had the final word on the field.
“When you have two teams that really hate each other, that’s going to be your best football,” Miami linebacker Joey Porter(notes) said. “I wish you could hate every team like you hate your rivals. They brought out our best football.”
And, just like the last time these teams met, the game came down to the wire.
Facing a fourth-and-13 following a sack by Randy Starks(notes) with just over a minute remaining, Mark Sanchez(notes) scrambled before firing an incomplete pass over Dustin Keller(notes) and Jerricho Cotchery(notes) in the end zone to seal the loss for the Jets.
“This stings, going into the bye with a loss like this,” said Sanchez, who was 20 for 35 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. “As a competitor and as an offense, we thought we were winning that game, no doubt.”
They had a chance, particularly after Keller’s pretty 16-yard diving touchdown catch made it 30-25 with 5:52 remaining. Sanchez connected with Wright for the 2-point conversion, but it was negated by an illegal shift. Sanchez’s next attempt missed.
After New York’s defense stopped Miami, the Jets had a shot to stun the Dolphins late. But Sanchez and the offense couldn’t come through in the end.
“We felt we were going to be able to go in and seal the deal,” Cotchery said. “Give them credit. They kept us out of the end zone.”
After Sanchez scored from 1 yard on a pretty play-action fake, Ginn struck again with a 101-yard return that made it 24-13.
“I’ve never seen a third quarter like that,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “To win this football game and have a third quarter like that, my hat’s off to that group in the locker room.”
Notes: Ginn’s 101-yard return was second in team history to Mercury Morris’ 105-yarder in 1969 at Cincinnati. … After running for 300-plus yards in two straight games, the Jets were held to 127—including 102 by Thomas Jones(notes).