DAVIE (AP) _ With one kickoff return, Ted Ginn Jr. nearly matched the Miami Dolphins' offensive yardage total for the entire day.
Good for Ginn. Bad for the offense.
In a 30-25 victory Sunday over the New York Jets, the Dolphins netted only 104 yards rushing and passing, the third-lowest total in franchise history and the worst since 1999.
Ginn totaled about as much in a 14-second span, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Then he returned the Jets' next kickoff 101 yards for another score.
“He has that kind of strike ability,'' coach Tony Sparano said Monday.
Ginn provided the kind of big-play impact that has been missing from the Dolphins' offense.
The deficiency is easy to overlook, because Miami has scored at least 30 points in the past four games, matching the franchise's longest such streak. The Dan Marino-led Dolphins never scored at such a pace.
But the offense generated only 10 points against the Jets and has slipped to 23rd in the NFL in yards. Miami ranks last at 9.6 yards per completion. Only five teams are giving up sacks at a faster rate, and the five wide receivers on the roster have combined to score two touchdowns.
The Dolphins (3-4) know they'll need more punch to stay in the AFC East race. Kickoff returns won't be enough Sunday at division leader New England (5-2).
“We've got to find some more chunk yardage,'' Sparano said. “We've got to find ways to advance the ball down the field a little bit more.''
It may not come from the speedy Ginn, who lost his job as a starting receiver last week and has five catches in the past five games _ none Sunday. His replacement in the lineup, rookie Brian Hartline, was also shut out by the Jets.
Passing has been a problem for the Dolphins all season. They lost quarterback Chad Pennington to a season-ending shoulder injury in the third game, and while second-year pro Chad Henne is 3-1 as a starter, Miami has netted more than 200 yards through the air only once all season.
The offense has relied heavily on running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, but opponents have lately stymied the Dolphins with eight-man fronts, daring them to throw.
That tactic worked against the Jets. The Dolphins were only 4 for 15 on third- and fourth-down conversions, and six times they went three-and-out.
“We just need to get better overall against an eight-man front,'' Henne said. “I don't think overall we executed _ the running game or the passing game. We weren't converting on third down. We got ourselves with third-and-longs that we didn't want to get ourselves into.''
Third-and-longs came about in part because the Jets sacked Henne six times for 60 yards in losses. Henne has been sacked 14 times since taking over in Week 3, and Sparano said his young quarterback needs to learn to throw the ball away.
“Sometimes you try to keep the play alive just a split second too long,'' Sparano said. “Sometimes throwing it into the 13th row is a good play.''
While wideouts totaled only five catches for 33 yards, Sparano estimated they were open downfield about five times when Henne was unable to get the ball to them. Twice he was sacked on sprintouts, and once he overthrew Hartline when the rookie was a step behind the secondary.
Ginn played only 16 snaps but worked himself open deep too, Sparano said.
“He ran by those people two times, and we just couldn't get him the ball,'' the coach said.
The much-maligned Ginn answered his critics with the kickoff returns, but it's unclear how much of a role he'll have in the offense in the weeks to come. The Dolphins projected him as a No. 1 receiver when they took him in the first round of the 2007 draft, but he has yet to fill that role.
He may instead become a situational receiver _ which would leave Miami still looking for a go-to guy for Henne.
“You have to understand what the player can do well, and let him only do what he can do well,'' Sparano said.
The sputtering offense goes beyond the receivers and Henne. Perhaps the biggest problem against the Jets was in the line, where there were plenty of blocking breakdowns in both the passing and running game.
“We were trying some different things protection-wise, and we couldn't hold up against their defense,'' guard Justin Smiley said. “They did an awesome job of bringing it to us. They game-planned us on third down and brought the heat. They harassed Chad Henne, and we have to do a better job this week.''
Pictured above is Dolphins wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.