Tim Boyle's debut as the quarterback for the New York Jets can be partly summed up in this play: A 17-play, 7-minute drive was squelched when Boyle's pass was deflected, shot up into the air and was intercepted on the way down by Miami's Jerome Baker in the fourth quarter.
His best moment came minutes later: A Dolphins' fumbled snap was recovered by Ashtyn Davis at the Miami 35 with 6:25 to play. Six plays later, Boyle's 1-yard pass found a diving Garrett Wilson in the end zone.
And for better or worse, one pass Boyle threw -- a Hail Mary at the end of the first half, after a D.J. Reed interception, that was returned by Jevon Holland 99 yards for a TD as time ran out -- changed the game's momentum and ultimately the outcome in Miami's 34-13 victory in the NFL's first game on Black Friday. Holland's score gave Miami a 17-6 lead and the ball to start the second half.
"Coming off a pick-6 then another interception by D.J. Reed, I thought momentum was going our way," Boyle said about Brandin Echols' 30-yard return of a Tua Tugovailoa pass. "I wanted to see if we could get in the end zone. They did a good job on the rush, I got out of the pocket to buy some time, and by the time I got out there I couldn't get enough of it.
"They made a good play. I've never seen anything like that. It was frustrating, I just tried to give our guys a chance. It fell a little short."
Head coach Robert Saleh handed Boyle (who was 27 of 38 for 179 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs) the keys to the quarterback position last Monday. Boyle signed with the Jets (4-7) in free agency after two seasons playing behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. He said that during the game Rodgers, who continues to rehab after tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 1, offered some advice.
"He's a peaceful calming presence for me," Boyle said. "He always does a good job of painting a picture. He came on the field a few times and told me a few things he was thinking about. He's a close friend and I'm glad I had him on the sideline tonight."
Through three quarters, the Jets' offense struggled to convert on third down (0 of 5 in the first half, 5 of 14 in the game, 35.7%; but 2 of 3 converting on fourth down) while AFC East-leading Miami (8-3) closed out the first half with a 40-19 advantage in plays on offense. The Dolphins then dominated the third quarter, clocking 20 plays to the Jets' 3 (a single three-and-out series), but only added a field goal.
With Mekhi Becton inactive after sustaining an ankle injury last week against the Bills, the Jets fielded their eighth different combination on the offensive line. Carter Warren replaced Becton at left tackle and Xavier Newman started at RG. Against Miami's aggressive defense, however, the Jets rushed for 29 yards and the Dolphins sacked Boyle 7 times.
"I think they did a good job," Boyle said. "It was a short week. We had a new left tackle with Xavier back [from the practice squad], the communication was on point and they battled all four quarters. I love those guys. Tipp [rookie center Joe Tippmann] is doing a great job making all the calls. Laken [Tomlinson] has been solid and Max [Mitchell] battled all game. I'm pleased with those guys and I was proud to be their quarterback tonight."
In his fourth start as an NFL quarterback, Boyle was asked what he learned from Sunday's game.
"I think our intermediate passing game got going in the second half and we can build on that," he said. "And to lean on guys making plays like Conk [TE Tyler Conklin], Breece [Hall] and 17 [WR Garrett Wilson]. We have to scheme those guys up, they're our playmakers and we have to get the ball to them more."
Of course, there's no guarantee that Boyle will start again when the Jets will try to snap their four-game losing streak, against Atlanta on Dec. 3. After the game, Saleh would not commit to either Boyle or No. 2 Trevor Siemian.
"Coach said it best at the end of the game in the locker room," Boyle said. "We have to get our minds right to have the best six weeks of our life. We have six more games and we have to put our best foot forward."
"We're going to continue to build, continue to fight. ... and on to next week."
See the best game action photos during Friday's game against the Miami Dolphins.