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THE NFL / 1996

It's a Miserable Ending for Jets, Kotite as Dolphins Rally, 31-28

December 23, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The NFL season is over--too soon for the Miami Dolphins, not fast enough for the New York Jets.

Dan Marino threw for three touchdowns and rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar surpassed 1,000 yards rushing Sunday as the Dolphins defeated the Jets, 31-28. The victory allowed Miami, which had hopes of bigger things in its first season under Coach Jimmy Johnson, to finish 8-8.

"I think more than anything, it's just a start," said Johnson, who started seven rookies against New York. "We got the first year behind us. First years for me, if you check out my record, are tough wherever I've been, because I change so many things. I get so many new players. . . . Now, we can start winning ballgames."

And now the Jets can stop losing them in 1996. They finished 1-15, only the fifth team to compile such a miserable record since the league went to 16 games in 1978. They also were 0-8 at home and have lost 12 in a row at Giants Stadium.

That brought Rich Kotite's record in his two seasons as Jet coach to 4-28, matching the worst in NFL history, by Leeman Bennett of Tampa Bay, for that span. Kotite won't lose any more--he resigned on Friday.

"It was a poor two years," Kotite said. "I learned that you stand up there, don't make excuses, show character and don't flinch."

Abdul-Jabbar ran for 152 yards in 30 carries to give him 1,116 for the season.

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