EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins are in a much different spot than they were the last time they faced the New York Jets.
Last month, they were one of the league's midseason laughingstocks, still looking for their first victory of the season. Then they went out and embarrassed the Jets 26-18.
The Dolphins (3-9) could sweep the season series with a win Sunday at MetLife Stadium, adding another chapter to an AFC East rivalry that has lacked juice in recent seasons as both teams have struggled.
“We’re really trying to find ourselves and improve, and we’ve only won three games this year, so there’s a lot of things internally that we’re just trying to focus on and fix and get better at," Fitzpatrick said. “Some of those questions and then historically and in the past, some things that have happened, that is not really our focus right now. We’re kind of hyper-focused on the now and getting ourselves better.”
The Dolphins have plenty of motivation in the season’s final month, even though they’ve been out of the playoff race for weeks, and each win hurts their chances of landing a franchise quarterback in next year’s draft.
After an 0-7 start, Miami has won three of five games, including victories over playoff contenders Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
“It just shows that we can compete with anybody and we can beat really good teams,” first-round draft pick Christian Wilkins said. “We will keep building. I know that this might not be the season that we wanted, or the fans wanted, but winning gives us a little extra sense of motivation."
Meanwhile, the Jets (4-8) are in a similar spot as the Dolphins in what has been a season marked by inconsistency, injuries and humiliating losses.
New York had its three-game winning streak stopped last week with a 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati. If the loss to Miami on Nov. 3 was tough to swallow, that one was even worse. The Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose to two teams that were 0-7 or worse in the same season.
“It’s frustrating, obviously,” running back Le'Veon Bell said, "but we have to find a way to get better.”
The Jets had scored 34 points in each of their previous three games - all wins - but couldn't get anything going against the Bengals. They were called for 10 penalties, including seven on the offensive line, and quarterback Sam Darnold was hurt by several drops.
“I think, for us, it was too many penalties,” Darnold said. “For me, I have to hit my guys, I have to be more accurate. I felt like we couldn’t get into a rhythm and it hurt us. ... We didn’t come out flat, that wasn’t an issue for us. It was really just a matter of executing, which was the issue.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.