NEW YORK – The New York Jets were looking at fourth-and-really long - and another brutal loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Until a controversial call changed it all.
Sam Ficken kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired to give the Jets a 22-21 comeback victory Sunday after they benefited when an incomplete pass was reviewed in New York and a rare game-altering pass interference ruling on Miami was added.
“I thought it was pass interference," Darnold said. “And, obviously, they overturned it."
Darnold got the winning drive going with a short pass to Vyncint Smith, who turned it into a 37-yard gain that included a high-step over a would-be tackler. After a sack by Andrew Van Ginkel two plays later put the ball at the Dolphins 46, Darnold threw an incomplete pass to Smith.
But, the Jets argued Nik Needham interfered with the receiver by wrapping his right arm around Smith's right shoulder.
“I knew it was pass interference from the beginning," Smith said. “I think I had one earlier in the game that they didn't call, so I was upset they weren't calling that one, either.”
But the play went to a video review at the league office and the interference call was added - giving the Jets a first down and new life.
“Honestly, it's just trash,” Needham said.
A 12-yard catch by Ty Montgomery got the ball to the 26. Two plays later, Ficken won it, helping the Jets (5-8) avoid a season series sweep by the lowly Dolphins (3-10).
“This one feels really good," said Ficken, who made three field goals but missed an extra point. "This is definitely the best moment I've had in my pro career "
Miami coach Brian Flores appeared incensed as the game ended, with TV cameras catching him shouting his displeasure at one of the officials. He refused to discuss the overturned call with reporters.
“We lost the game,” Flores said. “I was upset we lost the game."
Added Needham: “How else am I supposed to get to the receiver? He's in front of me. I can't run through him. I have to get around him to get the ball out. Yeah, so it's a P.I. in their house."
Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, said the call was made by New York by rule with the game having under two minutes left. All reviews are done in the booth and/or in New York.
“It was clear and obvious that the receiver did get significantly hindered prior to the ball getting there," Riveron told a pool reporter.
The Jets - who lost to the previously winless Cincinnati Bengals last week - overcame a Dolphins franchise-record seven field goals by Jason Sanders, including a 37-yarder that gave Miami the lead with 1:33 left.
Sanders kicked a 48-yarder to put the Dolphins up 18-16 with 6:59 remaining, but Ficken's 42-yarder gave New York the lead again with 4:05 left.
Darnold, who injured his right hand at the beginning of the fourth quarter, was off on a few of his late passes but finished 20 of 36 for 270 yards and touchdowns to Demaryius Thomas and Robby Anderson. Darnold also was intercepted once.
Anderson had seven catches for 116 yards and the score. Bilal Powell, starting in place of the ill Le'Veon Bell, had 74 yards on 19 carries before leaving on the final drive with an ankle injury.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was 21 of 37 for 245 yards with an interception for Miami, playing without top receivers DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson who both left with concussions.
The Jets took a 16-6 lead with 1:55 left in the opening half on Thomas' 14-yard touchdown catch, his first for New York. The initial call of an incomplete pass was overturned by a video review as officials ruled Thomas had possession as he was tackled by Needham while falling into the end zone.
New York nearly had another score a few plays later when James Burgess intercepted Fitzpatrick and took it into the end zone, but the Jets linebacker was called for defensive holding - negating the turnover.
Miami ended up getting a 28-yard field goal from Sanders with 19 seconds remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 16-9.
The Jets were without two of their best players with both Bell and safety Jamal Adams sitting out.
Bell was ruled out Saturday because of what Gase said after the game is the flu. He practiced fully Wednesday, but then sat out Thursday and Friday.
Adams was officially ruled inactive 90 minutes before the game after he missed practice all week with a sprained ankle. It was the first game Adams has missed in his three-year NFL career.
Dolphins: Parker went out with a concussion in the second quarter, and Wilson in the third. ... TE/FB Chandler Cox injured a shoulder in the fourth quarter.
Jets: TE Ryan Griffin left with an ankle injury on New York's opening drive and didn't return. ... DL Quinnen Williams suffered a burner in the third quarter and didn't return. ... CB Kyron Brown was in crutches in the locker room after hurting his left quadriceps in the fourth quarter.
Dolphins: play at MetLife Stadium again next Sunday to take on the Giants.
Jets: travel to Baltimore to take on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Thursday night.