The Dolphins, with nothing to play for but respect, eliminated their division rival Jets from playoff contention on Sunday. Miami was down 10-6 with 7:56 left in the 3rd when they went on an epic 94-yard, 21-play, 12+ minute go-ahead drive. Yes, a 21-play drive, tiring out Rex Ryan's prized defense. Highlighted by six 3rd down conversions, there was a 73% chance of the drive ending in a punt and only 6% chance of a TD on 3rd-and-9 from their own 7-yardline (Play 3). Using our Markov model, we can see the progression of the drive - and the progression of the Jets' demise.
Matt Moore stayed cool under pressure, completing 1st-down passes on all six third downs. The biggest of these came on a 3rd-and-13 from the Jets 47. Moore hits Brandon Marshall for an 18-yard completion, adding 2.68 points above expectation and increasing the Dolphins' chances of winning by 11%. One more new set of downs and the Dolphins became favorites to win the game.
The 94-yard drive culminated in a 1-yard completion to Charles Clay, fittingly on a 3rd down. Up 13-10, the Dolphins would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way, squashing the Jets' playoff hopes.
Before the drive, the Jets had a 72% chance of winning the game; after the touchdown, that shrunk to 34%. The drive was the straw that broke Rex Ryan's back for the 2011 NFL season. No one is more thankful than the Bengals, who sneak in as the 6-seed and will face a Schaub-less Houston team next week.
Keith Goldner is the creator of Drive-By Football, and Chief Analyst at numberFire.com - The leading fantasy sports analytics platform. Follow him on twitter @drivebyfootball or check out numberFire on Facebook.