MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Rookie returner Kenyan Drake was delighted to find himself at the bottom of a pile of players, because they were teammates in the end zone.
Drake caused the celebration when he scored untouched on a 96-yard kickoff return with 5:15 left Sunday, the final swing in a seesaw game that helped the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets, 27-23.
Jay Ajayi came up short in his bid to become the first NFL rusher to have three consecutive 200-yard games, but he managed 111 yards and helped to run out the clock after the Dolphins came from behind for the third time.
A botched Dolphins punt led to a touchdown that put New York ahead 23-20. The Jets pinned Miami’s Jakeem Grant deep on the ensuing kickoff, but Antonio Allen was flagged for offside.
On the re-kick, the weary coverage team found itself chasing a fresh Drake , Grant’s backup. He sped past the final Jet — kicker Nick Folk — into the clear.
“I was trying to remember what my track coach said: to keep those knees up,” Drake said.
Even his teammates gave chase.
“Everyone was running down the sideline,” Ajayi said. “I was trying to beat him to the end zone. I was so excited for him.”
The Dolphins (4-4) won their third game in a row, while New York (3-6) fell deeper into last place in the AFC East. The Jets hurt themselves with four personal foul penalties, two interceptions thrown by Ryan Fitzpatrick and numerous squandered chances.
Fitzpatrick missed four plays midway through the second half because of a left knee injury and wore a brace when he returned. He said he’ll undergone an MRI exam Monday.
Ajayi was hit behind the line on many of his 24 carries but gradually wore down the Jets and had 55 yards in the fourth quarter.
“I’m never going to go away from him,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “His job is to keep hammering it.”
Also impressive with his ball-carrying skills was 335-pound Miami defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who leaped over an opponent during a 17-yard interception return to set up a field goal.
“Looked like he wanted to be a hurdler,” teammate Ndamukong Suh said.
Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone by Bobby McCain in the fourth quarter, and missed an open Brandon Marshall in the end zone, forcing New York to settle for a field goal.
“We had opportunity after opportunity and didn’t get it done,” Fitzpatrick said. “It all falls on the quarterback. There’s a lot of things I could have done better today.”
Same for the Jets defense — linebacker Jordan Jenkins dropped a potential interception with nothing but 85 yards of grass in front of him.
The Jets were amped up at the start to stop Ajayi — perhaps too much so.
Ajayi lost 3, 1 and 5 yards on his first three carries. But two of the losses were negated by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Buster Skrine, and a taunting penalty on Calvin Pryor.
On his fourth carry, Ajayi found a big hole and ran 20 yards for a touchdown to put Miami ahead 7-3.
The Jets’ Sheldon Richardson was flagged for unnecessary roughness twice in the second quarter.
ABSENT AT FIRST
Jets defensive linemen Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson sat out the first quarter and entered the game at the start of the second period. A team official said their absences at the start weren’t injury-related, but declined to say whether they were for disciplinary reasons.
“Coach’s decision,” coach Todd Bowles said.
The feud between Marshall and Byron Maxwell produced a lot of trash-talking, but Marshall managed only 45 yards on six catches. The Jets receiver complained during the week that Maxwell held him on every play in their only previous meeting.
Jets: CB Marcus Williams (ankle) left the game in the first quarter. … LB Josh Martin (concussion) missed the second half.
Dolphins: LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion and hand) and WR Kenny Stills (illness) left the game in the second quarter.
The Jets started the game with a field goal at the end of a 13-play drive, and the best was an ad lib. Fitzpatrick scrambled up the middle for 14 yards, and as he was about to be tackled, he lateraled to Bilal Powell for an additional 8 yards.
Miami receiver Jarvis Landry, who said he would remain aggressive after a hefty fine for a block that injured the Bills’ Aaron Williams, kept the pledge. Following a catch he tried to run through tackler Marcus Gilchrist and knocked off the safety’s helmet.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.