EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets were back in the game after forcing another turnover by the Dolphins. And they were feeling lucky.
Then it all went wrong with one failed Hail Mary.
After D.J. Reed intercepted Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa to give New York the ball at its 49 with 2 seconds left and trailing 10-6, Jets coach Robert Saleh opted to have Tim Boyle launch a pass into the end zone instead of taking a knee.
“I put it on me,” Saleh said.
Boyle’s throw was picked off by Jevon Holland, who snagged it at the 1 and took off down the field, weaved his way past some would-be Jets tacklers — including Boyle — and took it in untouched for a 99-yard interception return.
It was the turning point in the Jets’ 34-13 loss in the NFL’s first game played on Black Friday.
“I’ve never really seen or been a part of anything like that,” Boyle said. “But it’s a good learning experience. You have to have a cover plan just in case interceptions happen like that.”
With Miami leading 10-0, the Jets intercepted Tagovailoa on consecutive series — and still didn’t cut into the Dolphins’ lead. Brandin Echols stepped in front of Tagovailoa’s short pass intended for Braxton Berrios and returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 58 seconds left.
New York got within 10-6, missing the extra point. The Jets went into halftime trailing by 11.
“We felt good about the momentum we had gathered,” Saleh said. “We took our shot off the interception to try to get one more (score). Just a very unfortunate play at the end of the half.”
It sent the Jets fans who were just excited moments earlier about the prospects of their team pulling off a win heading to the MetLife Stadium concourses stunned and deflated.
“Of course, that’s not how you want things to go,” cornerback Sauce Gardner said. “It’s football. There’s always a change of events and you just never know when it’s going to happen.”
It was another disappointing outing for the Jets’ offense, which got just its 10th touchdown in 11 games on Boyle’s late 1-yard toss to Garrett Wilson.
But overall, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s unit couldn’t do much against the Dolphins despite making a switch to Boyle from Zach Wilson. The Jets had 159 total net yards, 12 first downs and their struggles on third down continued as they went 5 for 14 — although they went 2 for 3 on fourth down.
“We’ll keep digging,” Saleh said.
But when asked if he had thought about changing play-caller duties and switching from Hackett to perhaps passing game coordinator Todd Downing, Saleh said: “There’s no consideration there.”
When asked why, the coach simply said: “That’d be a really long answer, an answer for another day.”
In other words, there are a lot of things not right with the Jets’ offense right now.
As for Boyle, the 29-year-old career backup went 27 of 38 for 179 yards and a TD with two interceptions.
“I think Hackett called a good game,” he said. “I think we shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”
Saleh was noncommittal on having Boyle start the Jets’ next game against Atlanta at home on Dec. 3. Trevor Siemian could be the next man up.
“I’ll get to the tape and just take a look at all of it to make sure I’m making the smart answer,” Saleh said. “I’ll have a better answer for you (Saturday). I thought he battled. I thought he did some good things. Some things he needs to be better at, obviously.”
Other than the pick-6 at the end of the first half, there were several missed opportunities by the Jets on offense, such as Boyle’s overthrow to Jeremy Ruckert that would’ve gone for a big gain on the first drive.
Penalties were also a problem, with six called against them to either short-circuit drives on offense or prolong possessions by Miami.
Boyle, playing behind New York’s eighth starting offensive line combination in 11 games, was also sacked seven times.
“I don’t know what to tell the fans,” Garrett Wilson said. “I don’t know what they would want to hear. I’m out (of words). I can’t think of anything and I wish I could, man. We want to get this thing rolling and we’re going to keep grinding and we’re going to keep doing it.”
“But as far as trying to give y’all a soundbite or something like, keep the faith, man, I don’t know. I’m not even going to try this week.”
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DENNIS WASZAK Jr.Dennis is a pro football writer who covers the Jets and NFL