Dolphins visit Jets in first-ever Black Friday game on TSN
After a close victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday, the Dolphins' itinerary included some rest, meetings, watching game video, getting in a little practice time, hopping on a 1,000-mile flight and spending Thanksgiving preparing to face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Friday.
“It is more challenging, only because when you play a game, there’s a science behind the 48-hour time window of practicing or not practicing,” the Dolphins quarterback said of the quick turnaround between games. "It’s a lot of mental reps for all of us.
“We’ll probably have one day of field practice to run around and make sure everything is on point and on time. But outside of that, what makes these short weeks tough is that a lot of these things are more mental than physical.”
Jets coach Robert Saleh tried to take an optimistic approach to the short week.
“It’s better than a Thursday game,” he said, “from a timing standpoint and with regards to preparation for your team, at least from my opinion with all the research we’ve done.”
Sure, the Jets and Dolphins are getting one more day to get ready than the six teams with Thanksgiving games. But the spotlight will be on the AFC East rivals during the first game in NFL history to be played on Black Friday.
Miami (7-3) sits atop the division after bouncing back from a 21-14 loss to Kansas City two weeks ago and beating Las Vegas 20-13 last Sunday. With Buffalo in second place at 6-5, the Dolphins have a chance to create some more separation between them and the rest of the AFC East.
“They’re still a division opponent and every time we play them it’s always a tough game, regardless of the outcome," Miami defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said of facing New York. "That’s the tough thing about this league and the tough thing about playing division opponents (is) they know you, you know them. There typically isn’t much surprise.”
One unfamiliar element for the Jets (4-6): They are starting Tim Boyle at quarterback in place of the benched Zach Wilson while looking to snap a three-game skid and spark an offense that has produced nine touchdowns in 10 games.
“I’m excited to go out there and put my flavor on things and just be myself,” said Boyle, making his fourth NFL start. “Not overdo it, run the offense and put the ball in our playmakers' hands.”
While it's the first NFL game played the day after Thanksgiving, it's not the first time the Dolphins or Jets have played a regular-season game on a Friday.
Miami is 1-3 and New York is 2-5 in games played on that day. And this will be the third time the Dolphins and Jets square off on a Friday with the teams splitting the previous two matchups.
The first two games in Dolphins franchise history were Friday losses at home in 1966 against the Raiders and Jets. The Dolphins beat the Jets in 1983, the last time New York played on a Friday. In 2005, Kansas City won after the Dolphins and Chiefs moved up a regular-season matchup in Miami from Sunday to Friday because of Hurricane Wilma.
New York's first five Friday games came when the Jets were known as the Titans from 1960-62.
“It’s kind of cool to think about it because of Friday night football in high school," Dolphins right tackle Austin Jackson said. "That’s instantly what I think about. It’ll be my first high school football kind of Friday night game in a minute. Under the big lights, I think it’ll be fun, honestly.”
BRING IT TO A BOYLE
The 29-year-old Boyle made three starts in 2021 for Detroit, his only other NFL starting experience.
The Lions lost all three games. Boyle went 61 of 94 for 526 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions.
Boyle said his confidence is much higher now and he feels more mentally prepared to start.
“I definitely know what to expect on game day,” he said. “I’m not someone who’s going to be shell-shocked by the moment.”
The Dolphins have gained more yards per play (7.0) and per game (434) than any team in the league, but have struggled in short-yardage situations.
Miami is ranked 17th in third-down offense and is near the bottom of the NFL on third-and-short.
Against the Raiders, the Dolphins were 3 for 11 on third down. Miami converted just one of four third-down conversion attempts in which fewer than 5 yards were needed. The Dolphins also failed to convert a fourth-and-1.
“That is ever-present right now on our minds,” coach Mike McDaniel said, “because it’s hard to get the nine yards. I wish it was as simple as just get the one. But we’ll continue to work the same way and hold ourselves accountable, and that’s the area of football that we’re still the worst at, relatively, to all the stuff we do."
DOWN AND OUT
The Jets know the feeling of failing on third down better than anyone.
They have a league-worst 23% conversion rate in those situations after going 0 for 11 at Buffalo. The Jets are on pace to have the worst third-down efficiency in NFL history.
And that's not all: Their 26.1% conversion rate in the red zone is also last in the league and could set a league mark for futility.
AP Sports Writer Alanis Thames contributed to this report.
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