^By BARRY WILNER=
^AP Pro Football Writer=
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ A neater look sure suits Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The last time Fitzpatrick trimmed his beard, he threw six touchdown passes in leading Houston to victory in 2014. The recently shorn Fitzpatrick wasn’t quite as prolific Sunday for the New York Jets, connecting for a mere four scores in a 38-20 rout of Miami.
It was Fitzpatrick’s best performance since joining the Jets this year, and was punctuated by Brandon Marshall’s most impressive outing in green. The receiver had nine receptions for 131 yards and two TDs.
Fitzpatrick, who cropped his Viking-like beard for his 33rd birthday this week, didn’t seem bothered by the left thumb on which he had ligament surgery on March 13. He also connected with Devin Smith for the rookie’s first NFL touchdown, and with Eric Decker in New York’s fourth win in the last five meetings with Miami. The Jets (6-5) had lost four of their last five.
“It was just a little long,” Fitzpatrick said with a smile. “I miss it.”
Decker added, “We’ll pitch in for a weekly trim.” And Marshall insisted that “the beard should never come back.”
Fitzpatrick, making the 100th start of his 11-season career, said the Jets sensed the critical nature of this and every game remaining.
“We needed to right the ship,” he said. “This was an important one for us. That said, it makes next week’s more important.”
That would be against the local rival Giants, who at 5-6 will be just as desperate.
“What you saw today was our potential, what we’re capable of doing,” Marshall said. “Now the mission is to do it every play, every game and we’ll see what happens.”
Chris Ivory clinched the win with a vintage 31-yard TD run on which he broke four tackles.
Miami (4-7) now has dropped four of five and is 3-4 under interim coach Dan Campbell, who took over after Joe Philbin was fired following the Dolphins’ lopsided loss to the Jets in London.
“There’s nothing I can say that’s going to make that look better,” Campbell said. “We got whipped. We got whipped the first time and we got whipped the second time. Those are the facts.”
Ryan Tannehill threw TD passes to Jarvis Landry, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker _ like Smith, the first NFL TD for the rookie _ in the second half when the Jets were well ahead.
New York took control in the opening half. Miami’s best threat in the half ended in Tannehill’s poorly thrown attempt to Kenny Stills. Marcus Williams, a backup cornerback who leads the Jets with five interceptions, stepped in front of Stills and returned the pick 21 yards.
Williams, starting for injured Darrelle Revis, sprained his knee on the play and did not return.
The pick set up New York’s first touchdown. Marshall made receptions of 20 and 16 yards before beating Brent Grimes, Miami’s best cover man, for a 17-yard score.
New York outdid that impressive 72-yard drive with a 92-yarder to end the first half. It was one of the Jets’ best possessions of the season, capped by Smith’s post pattern on which he got a step on Jamar Taylor.
Miami gained only 81 yards, 8 rushing, in the opening half, when it lost four players to injury: center Mike Pouncey (right foot), receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs/chest), defensive tackles Earl Mitchell (calf) and C.J. Mosley (calf). The Dolphins finished with 12 yards on nine rushes, the fewest yards on the ground any Jets team has allowed.
Fitzpatrick’s third scoring throw, a 2-yarder to Decker, capped a short third-period drive of 25 yards set up Jeremy Kerley’s weaving 58-yard punt return.
The Dolphins finally converted a third down deep in the third quarter _ the Jets had stopped them on 20 in a row, including New York’s victory at London in September. The conversion came as part of a touchdown drive sparked by Grimes’ 28-yard punt return. A 40-yard completion to Landry led to Landry’s 5-yard TD catch to make it 21-7.
But Marshall outjumped Grimes for a 2-yard score and Ivory bulled his way home to put things out of reach. The 38 points were a season high for the Jets.
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