MIAMI, DEC. 8 -- The Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, both contenders for AFC playoff berths, will finish the season without key players who were injured in the Dolphins' 38-27 victory over the Jets Monday night at Joe Robbie Stadium.

Jets linebacker Lance Mehl (sprained knee) and defensive back Russell Carter (separated shoulder) will be sidelined for the rest of the regular season.

In addition, running back Freeman McNeil, who left the game with a hamstring injury, is uncertain for New York's game Sunday at New England.

Carter's injury is especially damaging. The Jets began Monday night's game with three players who have started in the defensive backfield -- Lester Lyles, Kerry Glenn, and Jerry Holmes -- on injured reserve. And Mehl had just returned to action after rehabilitating his other knee.

Dolphins center Dwight Stephenson, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, is out for the year because of a knee injury.

Miami Coach Don Shula termed Stephenson's injury "devastating."

The Dolphins and the Jets have 6-6 records and are one game behind first-place Indianapolis in the AFC East, with three games to play. If either the Jets or the Dolphins are to win the division, they must finish ahead of the Colts, who lead both in tie breakers.