MIAMI (Dec. 18, 2005) -- The Miami Dolphins ' late-season surge came too late.
Backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels sparked a fourth-quarter rally for the second time in three games, and the Dolphins earned their fourth consecutive victory Sunday by beating the New York Jets 24-20.
But Miami (7-7) was eliminated from the playoff race when Pittsburgh and San Diego won.
"We're just trying to find something to build on," said Marty Booker, who caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Rosenfels for the go-ahead score. "We want to finish the season strong, and hopefully it'll carry over to next year."
Injury-plagued New York (3-11) merely wants to finish the season. The loss in the Jets' final away game left them 0-8 on the road for the first time. The only other time they went winless on the road was in 1964, when they went 0-7.
"There are a lot of bad stats this year," coach Herman Edwards said.
It was small consolation that the Jets led on the road for the first time this season. That came when Brooks Bollinger and Doug Jolley connected on a 60-yard touchdown pass to make the score 17-10 midway through the third quarter.
New York's lead lasted 10 minutes before Ricky Williams tied the game with a 23-yard run. On the Dolphins' next possession, Rosenfels and Booker put them ahead to stay.
Replacing an injured Gus Frerotte to start the second half, Rosenfels went 6 for 13 for 99 yards. In his last appearance two weeks ago, Rosenfels came off the bench and rallied Miami from a 20-point deficit in the final 12 minutes to beat Buffalo.
Despite their longest winning streak since 2003, the Dolphins know there's room for improvement. After all, they needed a fourth-quarter comeback against a bad team to reach .500.
"Right now we're average -- 7-7," Rosenfels said. "But it's nice to win four in a row."
The Jets, who came into the game last in the NFL in points, scored 17 in a row after falling behind 10-0. And they tried to rally in the final moments, moving to the Miami 14-yard line before Bollinger threw four consecutive incompletions.
Bollinger finished 28 for 42 for 327 yards and two touchdowns. But Miami had six sacks -- three by Jason Taylor -- and the Jets lost three fumbles and botched a short field goal attempt.
"It's hard to look at anything right now and feel good about it," Bollinger said. "You just look at the negatives."
The Jets took their only lead with their longest gain of the season. On the first play following a punt, Bollinger threw deep to Jolley. It was Bollinger's longest completion, and Jolley's first touchdown this year.
With the Dolphins trailing 17-10, Rosenfels moved them 61 yards for the tying touchdown on Williams' run. Miami forced a punt and quickly struck again when Frerotte went deep to Booker with 11 minutes left to make it 24-17.
"We gave up too many big plays," Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "That cost us the game."
Mike Nugent kicked a pair of 42-yard field goals for New York. But when he lined up for a 20-yard attempt with the Jets trailing 7-0, holder Ben Graham was unable to handle a low snap, and Miami's Yeremiah Bell recovered.
Miami scored first when Frerotte hit Chris Chambers with an 8-yard touchdown pass. The completion was one of three third-down conversions in a 13-play drive.
A disputed third-down penalty on Vilma for roughing the passer started a 52-yard Miami drive that led to a field goal for a 10-0 lead.
Among those impressed by the Dolphins' turnaround under coach Nick Saban is former coach Don Shula, who holds the NFL record with 347 victories.
"Anybody that's a Dolphins fan feels they're headed in the right direction," Shula said.
Notes: Frerotte aggravated a sprained index finger on his throwing hand trying to make the tackle on his interception. He said his status for the next game against Tennessee is uncertain. ... Miami LB Channing Crowder also left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. RB Ronnie Brown hurt his left knee in the second quarter and played sparingly after that. ... Vilma, who came into the game leading the NFL with 143 tackles, had six.