EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As time expired in the first half Friday against the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland dropped back into coverage to defend a Hail Mary from quarterback Tim Boyle.
As Boyle's pass traveled 57.5 yards through the air, three words came to Holland's mind.
"I need that."
Holland intercepted the pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown in the Dolphins' eventual 34-13 win at MetLife Stadium, sucking the air out of the home crowd with every step he took along the way. It was the first Hail Mary returned for a touchdown since ESPN began tracking the play in 2006.
With the Dolphins set to receive the ball to start the second half, Holland said he never had any thought of batting the ball down; he wanted to score.
"We going into the half, right, so I'm like we can double dip," he said when asked about the play. "I know we get the ball after halftime, so I was like, let me go ahead and score or try to score so we can double dip and just score again, so that we're two scores back and back. So, no thought of knocking anything (down)."
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw interceptions on consecutive drives toward the end of the second quarter, including a pick-6 to Jets cornerback Brandin Echols that cut Miami's lead to 10-6. Cornerback D.J. Reed intercepted Tagovailoa with two seconds remaining in the half, giving the Jets the ball at their own 49-yard line.
Holland picked the ball off at the 1 and ran a total distance of 124.39 yards, picking up critical blocks from Dolphins defensive lineman Christian Wilkins and linebackers Bradley Chubb and Jerome Baker along the way. With one man between him and the end zone, Holland easily juked Boyle to his knees before crossing the goal line.
"It was just me and the quarterback, and unfortunately, I had to take those ankles," Holland said.
The game was effectively over after that play, as the Jets failed to score again until a garbage-time touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle called it "one of the best plays" he's seen, while coach Mike McDaniel said Holland's run was reminiscent of a certain Pro Football Hall of Fame safety.
"There are very few players that could have pulled off what Jevon did," McDaniel said. "I think Jevon's the type of player that has very high aspirations of himself and our team knows he can be the best player on the field at any given moment. He's watched a ton of Ed Reed tape, and that was very reminiscent of Ed Reed for sure, so that was a cool moment that nobody on this team that was on the field will forget that particular play ... it was a big-time play and something that our team needed."
Jets running back Breece Hall, who was blocked by Wilkins as he attempted to tackle Holland, said he was "surprised" the Jets didn't just kneel down with so little time in the half. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson ran 176.36 total yards in pursuit of Holland, but said he had no issue with the decision to try to score.
"It makes perfect sense to me. You get the ball at the 50, you throw the ball at the end zone," he said. "When you stop thinking like that, that's when you're passive, and I don't want to be a part of a passive offense. I'm happy we went for it. When things go like that, it makes people question things and hindsight's 20/20, so that's what it is. We go and make a play right there. Who knows? That's how I see things."
The Dolphins' defense tormented New York's offense for most of the game, forcing two turnovers, sacking Boyle six times, and holding its division rival to just 2.9 yards per play.
Miami has been one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL over its past four games. Since Week 8, it has allowed the second-fewest first downs (53), the fourth-fewest offensive touchdowns (6) and recorded the sixth-most sacks (14).
Information from Next Gen Stats was used in this report.