The Dolphins (6-10) finished off the 2011 season and Jason Taylor finished off his career with a 19-17 come-from-behind win over the rival New York Jets (8-8), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Taylor nearly had one final iconic moment late in the fourth quarter, as he recovered an apparent fumble by guard Matt Slauson (who legally caught the ball off of a deflection) and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, but after a wild endzone celebration, the play was reversed as it became clear Slausen was down by contact before the ball came free.
That said, Taylor was still on the field for the final snaps of the game, as QB Matt Moore kneeled down and handed the ball to Taylor, who had checked in as eligible for the two necessary clock plays.
The Dolphins trailed 10-6 at the end of a very sloppy first half thanks to a pair of Dan Carpenter field goals, including a 58-yard strike right before halftime. In the third quarter, though, the Fins took control–literally. Their 21-play, 94-yard, 12 minute, 29 second touchdown drive was the longest in franchise history and the longest by any team in the NFL this season and just as importantly, it gave the Fins a lead they would not relinquish.
Another couple of field goals from Carpenter would pretty much seal the deal even though a late Jets TD (following the reversed Taylor score) would make things a bit tighter at the finish.
The victory also made the Dolphins just the third team in NFL history to win six games following an 0-7 start, as they join the 1978 Cardinals and 1998 Redskins in that department.
With this final win of the 2011 season now in the books, everyone’s attention will turn to the search for a new head coach. Interim coach Todd Bowles wraps up the final three games with a 2-1 record and will be interviewed for the position. And once the coach is in place, it’ll be full speed ahead to the draft.
For today, though, it was a win in Jason Taylor’s final game; a win that knocked the Jets out of the playoffs; and a day that will be remembered for years to come.
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