Dolphins host Jets hoping to shake off embarrassing loss to Titans and avoid more major injuries

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Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins have done almost everything they’ve needed to since playing the New York Jets three weeks ago — except stay healthy.

Injuries to standout linebacker Jaelan Phillips (Achilles tendon tear) and starting safety Jevon Holland (knees) overshadowed Miami’s blowout win over the Jets in Week 12, when Holland also returned an intercepted first-half Hail Mary attempt 99 yards for a score.

Injuries showed up again in the Dolphins’ win over the Commanders the following week when linebacker Jerome Baker suffered a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve.”

And they played a major role in last week’s 28-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans, with Miami losing starting center Connor Williams for the season because of an ACL tear, and with star receiver Tyreek Hill largely limited by an ankle injury.

“This is how the league works,” Tagovailoa said. “You pray that you can have healthy seasons and stay healthy as long as possible, but it’s a physical sport, and things like that happen. When those things do happen, how do we as a team come out and not let our foot off the gas?”

He challenged the Dolphins to not be too “emotional” entering Sunday’s matchup against the Jets despite blowing a 14-point lead against Tennessee with less than five minutes remaining. The Dolphins (9-4) still sit atop the AFC East, and they’re the No. 2 seed in the conference.

“We don’t want to come into the game thinking we need to do this, we need to do that,” Tagovailoa said. “We just need to play within the rules and principles of what that play entails for us to do.”

The Jets (5-8) are coming off one of the best wins of their season — a 30-6 blowout of the Houston Texans that can serve as an energy-boosting victory to build on.

“Getting that win under our belt and getting that feeling again about who we are was huge for us,” said defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

“It’s another divisional game. You normally don’t like the opponents in your division for a reason. You’re rivals, you play them twice a year, you guys know each other too well, so it’s definitely a game you want to win.”

Coach Robert Saleh this week characterized their Week 12 meeting as a mix of “unfortunate situations” and “missed opportunities.”

He also doesn’t think the familiarity of playing the Dolphins just three weeks ago helps or hurts the Jets, who are not technically out of the playoff race despite struggling for most of the season.

“We are both who we are,” Saleh said. “There’s going to be some nuance, there’s going to be some changes. I’m sure coach (Mike) McDaniel is going to have 65 new plays, but at the meat of it is philosophy and a style of play that those guys have and same thing with us, both offensively and defensively and special teams.”

TYREEK HILL STATUS

Hill’s ankle injury that he suffered during the first quarter against Tennessee puts his availability Sunday in question.

Coach Mike McDaniel said earlier this week that he will wait for Hill to tell him whether he feels as if he can play on the ankle, which the star receiver said caused him a lot of pain in the second half.

“He’s going to take care of what’s in his hands,” McDaniel said, “but he’s such an important part of our team that we’re gonna make sure that when he’s on the field he’s not at risk of further injuring himself.”

NO PRESSURE

Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he doesn’t regret not sending more blitzes at Will Levis during Tennessee’s two late touchdown drives.

Despite just one sack in the game, the Dolphins largely limited big plays until the final five minutes. Levis completed four passes of at least 20 yards during that span.

“A lot of it happened very quickly,” Fangio said. “I needed to call it better, and we needed to play it better.”

ZACH’S BACK

Wilson had perhaps the best game of his career last week against Houston, throwing for 301 yards with two touchdowns and leading New York into the end zone three times overall.

“Whatever he ate Saturday night, just go do it again,” Saleh joked. “He’s been working, he’s been getting better and give him credit: He played free on Sunday.”

Wilson rebounded from a two-game benching to be selected AFC offensive player of the week for his performance. Wilson got the Jets’ previously sluggish offense moving consistently in the second half, when they scored all of their points in a 30-6 win.

“The thing is that’s the standard, right?” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t say, ‘Hey, you know, in that game, you were doing anything differently.’ I mean, we were in the flow, momentum was on our side.”

GARRETT GOING STRONG

Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson will extend a few records with every catch he makes the rest of this season.

The reigning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year has set the franchise marks for receptions (159) and yards receiving (1,956) by a player through his first two seasons.

Despite the Jets’ overall struggles and shaky play at the quarterback spot, Wilson has a team-leading 76 catches for 853 yards and three touchdowns this season.

“He’s becoming more and more un-guardable every day,” teammate and cornerback Sauce Gardner said.

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