Freeman McNeil took over the NFL rushing lead with 173 yards and an inspired New York defense harassed quarterback Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins for a 23-7 victory tonight, giving the Jets sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
The Jets (5-1) won their fifth straight game and ended the four-game winning streak of Miami (4-2).
Marino completed 13 of 23 passes for 136 yards, the lowest yardage he has compiled in two years. Although he was sacked only once, the Jets continually forced Marino to hurry his throws.
"What they did to us was mind-boggling," Miami wide receiver Mark Clayton said. "Nothing like this has happened to our offense since I've been here. I'm not used of this."
Miami had beaten New York seven straight times, but New York dominated the Dolphins in the second half. The Jets led at halftime, 6-0, on field goals of 22 and 18 yards by Pat Leahy, then controlled the ball in the second half with McNeil's running.
McNeil raised his season rushing total to 645.
"When you can beat the Super Bowl representative of our conference, it's a big win," said Jets Coach Joe Walton. "The offensive line came off the ball great and Freeman was running great."
The Jets opened the second half by moving 80 yards in 11 plays to take a 13-0 lead. Quarterback Ken O'Brien (18 of 28 for 239 yards) hit Kurt Sohn on a 15-yard scoring pass. McNeil had 15 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving on the drive.
But Miami came right back, making it 13-7 on its next possession. The Dolphins went 73 yards in eight plays with Ron Davenport scoring from the three.
But the Dolphins couldn't hold down McNeil as New York went 79 yards in 10 plays to set up Leahy's 18-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 16-7 lead. In the drive, McNeil had runs of 17, 10 and 9 yards.
Ex-quarterback Joe Namath had his No. 12 jersey retired by the Jets at halftime as a capacity crowd gave him a long standing ovation. It was the first number retired by the Jets.