The crash landing is coming


The crash landing is coming

By Michael Felger

A few things:

Here's an example of why the Jets will ultimately come up short this year:

Late Monday night, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in their harder-than-it-should-have-been victory over Minnesota, the Jets had an easy chance to kill the clock and put the game out of reach well before Brett Favre puked on his shoes. Only they blew it.

The Jets had just gotten a first down on a Mark Sanchez pass to Santonio Holmes when the Vikings called their last timeout with 2:47 left on the clock. At that point, the Jets basically needed a seven-second play to end the game. A pitch to the outside, or a rollout by Sanchez, or some other slow-developing play, would have done the trick. Heck, Sanchez could have run backwards 15 yards. It didn't matter. The play didn't have to gain any yards, it just had to get them to the two-minute warning. With Minnesota out of timeouts, the Jets then could have taken two knees, milked the 40-second clock down to the last seconds each time, and punted the ball away to the Vikings with around 30 seconds left in the game.

Instead, the Jets called a quick dive into the line, forcing them to snap the ball once more before the two-minute warning. And making matters worse, they called a pass. That play ended up bouncing incomplete with 2:04 left, which necessitated another snap before the two-minute warning. Another incomplete. The Jets then punted away with a hefty 1:56 left in the game, which was more than enough time for Favre to move the Vikings into field-goal range.

Thankfully for the Jets, Favre turned into Favre (he's the most overrated two-minute quarterback in the history of football, folks) and Randy Moss was his usual do-nothing self when it counted so New York escaped with the victory.

But Rex Ryan and the Jets won't be so lucky against Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger down the line. Ultimately, that poor attention to detail is going to cost them.

Meanwhile, I feel bad for the fans of Minnesota. You think you got a guy to put you over the top. Instead, you got a guy who is going to score a touchdown or two a game but won't make an appreciable difference in your won-loss record.

I witnessed Monday night's game from the stands at the New Meadowlands and I basically spent most of my time watching Randy. What I saw was Moss running about 40 vertical routes down the numbers and that's about it. Antonio Cromartie had him covered most of the time. Sometimes Favre threw it up to him, sometimes he didn't. The net impact was a lovely 37-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter and not much else (Moss finished with four catches on 10 targets).

Get used to it, Minnesota.

And see you next year.

(That said, I loved the Vikings' first play: a pass from Moss to Favre out of a double-reverse. The play was called back on a penalty, but so what? It was fun. I wonder if that came from Brad Childress, or if Moss and Favre just drew it up in the huddle).

Finally, you folks are going to like Deion Branch back in the Patriots offense. He won't make any one-handed, 40-yard touchdown catches in the back of the end zone over Darrelle Revis, but he'll move the chains and make Brady feel comfortable.

Dumping Moss for Branch is the best move the Pats have made in a long, long time.

The AFC championship game is scheduled for Jan. 23. See you there.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7


Green has big game as Bengals dominate Dolphins 22-7

CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.

The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one - 173 yards and a touchdown - and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burfict's return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.

The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.

Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.

"I hold myself to a very high standard," said Green, who had 10 catches. "I know what I'm capable of. Last week I didn't perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week."

During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals' season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugent's season-high five field goals.

Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.

"Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play," Dalton said.

The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play - Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills - but couldn't do anything else on offense.

"We've got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday," Tannehill said. "We're kind of in a dark spot right now. It's squarely on our shoulders."

The Bengals' defense expected to get a lift from Burfict's return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

"He's amazing," end Carlos Dunlap said. "Did you see the plays he made? Those aren't plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. It's good to have him back."

Mostly, it was Green's show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Dalton's scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.


A large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: "Jose 16 Heaven's Bright."


The Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.


Miami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.


Dolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.

Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals' trouble close to the goal line. He's recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.


Stills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.


Tannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.


The Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. They're 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. They've dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.