MIAMI — As Dave Wannstedt trotted off the field and disappeared into a stadium tunnel, fans above him cheered and offered thumbs-up gestures.
The beleaguered coach went out of the 2003 season with a win Sunday, and it appears that the Dolphins not making the playoffs for a second consecutive season won't cost Wannstedt his job.
Wannstedt's situation would have been less precarious if the Miami Dolphins had played all season the way they did in a meaningless finale. They showed some offensive spark for a change, and Olindo Mare kicked a 22-yard field goal with three seconds left to beat the New York Jets, 23-21.
The Dolphins (10-6) earned a dubious distinction, becoming the first team since Philadelphia and San Francisco in 1991 to win 10 games and miss the playoffs. But, there were reports Sunday that Wannstedt would retain his job. Owner Wayne Huizenga said he'll make an announcement regarding the coach's future today.
Wannstedt, 41-23 in four seasons at Miami, has one year left on his contract.
Said Wannstedt of the meeting: "We're going to talk about the direction of the team. We've had no discussions about next year."
The Jets (6-10) closed out their first losing season since 1996 and their first under Herman Edwards.
"It starts with the head guy," Edwards said. "I need to improve. I feel I let these guys down this year."
Seven of New York's 10 losses were by seven points or fewer.
"We'll all remember this feeling," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure we don't have this feeling again."
Pennington completed 22 of 28 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown, but counterpart Jay Fiedler was even better. Playing perhaps his final game for Miami, Fiedler threw for a career-high 328 yards and completed three passes to drive the Dolphins 45 yards in the final 2:56 for the winning field goal.
Fiedler, erratic and injury-prone in four seasons as Dan Marino's successor, completed 21 of 29 passes. Chris Chambers made nine catches for 153 yards, both career highs.
The game between AFC East rivals had the atmosphere of an August exhibition, with about 20,000 empty seats.