There are several reasons the Dolphins have lost eight straight games against the New York Jets. The inability to run the ball. A defensive collapse here and there. But there is nothing that stands out like the Dolphins' problems with turnovers.

The numbers really are staggering.

During the eight-game losing streak to the Jets, the Dolphins have committed a whopping 26 turnovers — 20 interceptions and six lost fumbles.

If that's not bad enough, five of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns by the Jets. There was Chad Cascadden's fumble return in 1998; Marcus Coleman and Omar Stoutmire's interception returns in 1999; and Aaron Glenn and Victor Green's interception returns in the Jets' 24-0 victory at Pro Player Stadium last Sunday.

The Jets, meanwhile, have committed only 11 turnovers in those eight games, resulting in a minus-15 turnover ratio for the Dolphins. You're not going to win many games that way.

Take last year, for example, the Dolphins turned the ball over nine times in the two games and didn't force a turnover. Good luck.

The Dolphins were leading the first matchup last year 17-7 when Lamar Smith committed a fumble that turned the game around. In the second matchup, the key play in the game occurred in the first half when a Jay Fiedler pass bounced off James McKnight's facemask and was picked off by Glenn, who returned for a 7-0 lead that was much more psychologically damaging than anything else.

No wonder Coach Dave Wannstedt is stressing the importance of turnovers when he talks about this Sunday's matchup.

"Turnovers have been and will be a key in this game and in every game this year," he said. "Right now we're tied for the lead in the NFL (in turnover ratio). That's where we want to be. Turnovers will be big in this game, just like they were in the last game."

Indeed, the Dolphins are tied for the league lead after two weeks this season with a plus-4 margin in turnover ratio. And, yes, turnovers were a big factor in the Dolphins' 21-13 victory over the Colts last Sunday.

Offensive tackle Todd Wade is well aware of the role turnovers have played in the series against the Jets.

"We've been the ones making mistakes," he said. "Our main focus is to play smart and avoid mistakes."

Wannstedt was asked this week if there was anything he could do to change the team's turnover fortunes against the Jets. His reply: "We're leading the league in turnovers; I sure as heck don't want to change anything."

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