EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Matt Moore last started an NFL game in the 2011 season finale, when the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets and Todd Bowles was his coach.
Well, Bowles is on the other sideline now, and the veteran quarterback is stepping in for Ryan Tannehill on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium when the AFC East rivals meet for the second time this season.
“I have a lot of respect for Matt,” said Bowles, the Jets coach who served as Miami’s interim coach for the final three games in 2011. “He hasn’t played in a while, obviously. Tannehill’s been playing good for them. Matt’s a competitor. I know he can throw the football and he’ll be ready to play.”
Tannehill is sidelined with a strained left knee, which will sideline him for the first time in his NFL career.
With the Dolphins (8-5) looking to clinch their first winning season since 2008, Moore will be under center after leading Miami on the winning drive last Sunday against Arizona.
“I’ve done this before,” the 32-year-old Moore said. “I’m just trying to jump in and have these guys and myself really not miss a beat.”
It’s been a busy week for Moore, whose wife gave birth to their son Wyatt on Monday. Now, the quarterback is trying to keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt.
Miami is in the thick of things in the AFC, but is on the outside looking in for the final wild-card because of tiebreakers with Denver (8-5).
“If you’re a Miami fan, you’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” wide receiver Jarvis Landry said. “Just being here and to just see how things have evolved, where we came from and where we have the position to be heading to, it’s amazing. It’s something that definitely makes you jump out of bed in the morning and come to work with a smile on your face.”
Meanwhile, the Jets (4-9) are hoping to play spoiler and looking to avoid being swept by the Dolphins in a season series for the first time since 2009. Bryce Petty will make his second straight start for New York after leading the Jets to a 23-17 overtime win at San Francisco.
“It was kind of a statement deal for, I think, everybody that we’re not just going to lay down,” Petty said. “We have three games left now and a lot of good things to come for this team.”
Here are some other things to know when the Dolphins and Jets meet Saturday night:
POSTSEASON SCENARIOS: The Dolphins have a chance to end a seven-season playoff drought, but players insist they’re paying little attention to the standings.
“We’re somewhere in the middle, the top, the bottom. Who knows?” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “We all understand what’s ahead of us and what we need to do.”
To make the playoffs, Miami needs to win one more game than the Broncos the rest of the way, meaning if Denver goes 2-1, the Dolphins would need to go 3-0.
ROBBY THE ROOKIE: In his last four games, rookie Robby Anderson leads the Jets with 263 yards receiving on 15 catches.
Anderson signed as an undrafted free agent out of Temple. He had an uphill climb to make New York’s roster, but impressed the coaching staff with his speed and athleticism. He’s fourth on the team with 34 catches and ranks eighth among rookie wide receivers in team history with 464 yards receiving.
MIAMI MILESTONE: Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi needs 44 yards for 1,000, but has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry in the past three games.
Ajayi had consecutive 200-yard games in October. He hasn’t reached triple figures since running for 111 against the Jets in Game 8, and coach Adam Gase blames injuries on the offensive line, stout defensive fronts and bad luck.
“We’re a shoelace away so many different times, where all of a sudden that 5-yard gain is going to be 25,” Gase said. “I don’t want him to change anything he’s doing because he’s doing exactly what we need him to do, and he’s doing exactly the same thing he did when we had those big-time rushing numbers. He just can’t get frustrated thinking it’s something with him.”
BOOM-BOOM-POWELL: After Matt Forte went down with a knee injury early against San Francisco, Bilal Powell came in and rushed for 145 yards , the second-highest total of career, and two TDs, including a 19-yard game-winning run in OT.
His 179 yards from scrimmage were the most by a Jets running back on the road since Curtis Martin’s 175 in 2004 vs. St Louis. Forte is uncertain to play against the Dolphins, so Powell could be in for another busy game — which could also be big for his fantasy owners.
O-LINE SHUFFLE: Continuity has been an issue for New York’s offensive line because of injuries, with starting center Nick Mangold, left tackle Ryan Clady and right tackle Breno Giacomini all on injured reserve. Only left guard James Carpenter has started every game.
The Jets have used seven different combinations of linemen and could see an eighth on Saturday. If Brent Qvale (hamstring) is unable to play right tackle, rookie Brandon Shell could make his first NFL start.
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