Matt Moore, making his first start in almost five years, threw a career-high four touchdown passes Saturday night as the Miami Dolphins ensured they would keep pace in the AFC wild-card race with a 34-13 rout of the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Dolphins (9-5) won for the eighth time in nine games to clinch their first winning season since 2008 and at least momentarily move into the final wild-card spot in the AFC, a half-game ahead of the Denver Broncos. The Broncos, who play the New England Patriots on Sunday, hold the strength of victory tiebreaker over Miami.
The Jets (4-10) have lost five of six.
Moore, who previously threw three touchdowns in a game five times, tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims and a 52-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills to stake the Dolphins to a 13-10 lead at the half.
Miami blew the game open by scoring three touchdowns in a span of 4:04 in the third quarter, when Walt Aikens returned a blocked punt 11 yards for a touchdown before Moore connected for touchdown passes with Sims (1 yard) and Jarvis Landry (66 yards).
Moore, who last started Jan. 1, 2012, before becoming Ryan Tannehill’s backup when the Dolphins selected Tannehill in the first round of the 2012 draft, finished 12 of 18 for 236 yards.
Called up to replace the injured Tannehill, Moore is the first quarterback to go more than four years between starts since Chris Redman, who went five years and almost two months between starts for the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons, respectively, in 2002 and 2007.
Jets quarterback Bryce Petty was 20 of 36 for 235 yards with one touchdown — a 40-yard strike to Robby Anderson in the first quarter — and two interceptions before he exited after a hard hit from Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in the fourth quarter.
(Editing by Andrew Both)