Dolphins' loss ends on controversial call, overshadows red zone issues

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores immediately ran to the NFL official, full of displeasure after an overturned pass interference call led to his team losing a 22-21 nail-biter to the New York Jets.

Flores approached the official after time ran out, clearly expressing his dismay as his assistant pulled him away from the ref toward the locker room.

"We lost the game. I was upset we lost the game," Flores said. "I'm not going to answer any questions about the officiating."

The Dolphins (3-10) need that fire and energy as they move toward what they hope will be a more competitive season in 2020. But, there are still some issues need to be solved over the final three games -- most notably their red zone regression.

The Dolphins finished 0-for-6 in the red zone Sunday, settling for five field goals made in that area. The lack of production in the red zone proved to be the difference, and was a big step back for a team that had converted 80% of their touchdowns in the red zone since Week 6.

As Miami looks for ways to improve headed into their final three games, scoring touchdowns should be a key start.

Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders made a franchise-record seven field goals, including the go-ahead kick with 1 minute and 33 seconds left that gave Miami a chance to win. He did miss one field goal attempt after a bobbled snapper-to-holder exchange.

Pivotal play: On a third-and-18 from Miami's 46-yard line with less than a minute left, Sam Darnold threw an incomplete pass to receiver Vyncint Smith with cornerback Nik Needham making contact with him a little early. Pass interference wasn't called, but the booth reviewed the play and overturned the ruling, giving the Jets first-and-10 on Miami's 38-yard line. Sam Ficken kicked the game-winning 44-yard field goal for the Jets' win.

"We lost on a call. It's trash. I'm not going to lie," Needham said. "That's just a tough call at the end. I feel like if that's at the beginning of the game, they're not even looking at that. thanks. We're about to win the game right there. Then they give the game to the officials. That's crazy."

Silver lining: The Dolphins lost receivers DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson for the game because of concussions. The injury to Parker is particularly devastating because he is their top receiver in the midst of a breakout season, but the silver lining is how Isaiah Ford stepped up in their absences. Ford had six catches for 92 yards.

Ford, who spent much of the season on the Dolphins' practice squad, had two catches for nine yards coming into the game. Ford's career-best game should provide him with more opportunities going forward, especially if Parker or Wilson have to miss Sunday's Week 15 game at the New York Giants.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson got unleashed on the Dolphins' secondary, going off for seven catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

On the Jets' game-winning drive, Steven Parker made a poor decision in diving to break up a pass to Smith that went for 37 yards. Later, Needham's pass interference set the stage for the game-winning field goal. Fair or not, secondary errors ultimately led to the Dolphins' loss.

QB breakdown: Ryan Fitzpatrick, the runner, was on the full display Sunday. He led Miami with 65 rushing yards, the second time he has led the team in rushing this season. Largely because of Fitzpatrick (with some help from Patrick Laird's 48 rushing yards), the Dolphins surpassed 100 rushing yards for the second time this season. It was their most rushing yards in a game this season.

It helped the Dolphins move the ball effectively, at least until they got into the red zone. Field goals ultimately weren't enough to beat the Jets on Sunday.