It was a less than aesthetic thriller at Sun Life Stadium, but Santonio Holmes put on a beautiful performance in the Jets 23-20 OT triumph over the Dolphins.
Tying a career-high with 9 receptions and totaling 147 yards, Tone made sure the Green & White would go home a victor with his 38-yard long reception down the left sideline on the Jets' second possession of the extra session. Holmes ran through a hold by Dolphins CB Ricky Marshall to get the Jets inside the red zone and Nick Folk pushed the Jets to 2-1 and 2-0 in the AFC East with a 33-yard boot.
"Tone made a great release," said QB Mark Sanchez. "Santonio played his ass off. Say what you want about him, but he played his absolute ass off. I was so proud of him to come back into an environment that brought back so many bad memories and fight it off to make some unbelievable catches — some Santonio Holmes like catches."
"I think he got too aggressive and wanted to jam me up at the line of scrimmage...," Holmes said of Marshall. "He overstepped himself and I gave him a good club with the right arm, whipped through and I got separation. All I could do was look up and the ball was placed beautiful. We made a big play in overtime and it gave us a chance to win the ball game."
The Jets ended their 2011 season with a 19-17 loss here to the Dolphins and Holmes finished that contest on the bench. But Tone has moved on and the game-changer wrote a much a different ending today.
"This is a new season. I didn't have anything to prove," he said. "We wanted to win this game as a team and that's what we did."
Sanchez fought through inconsistency Sunday, but he knew where No. 10 was at in key situations. Holmes was targeted 14 times in all as he nearly eclipsed his career-high yardage total of 149.
"He had those cornerbacks on their heels all day. They didn't know where he was going and which way he was turning — whether it was an underneath route or a deep route," Sanchez said. "And it was really impressive to watch."
"I just went out and played Santonio Holmes football," added Tone. "Sanchez felt comfortable getting me the ball in great places and we were able to steal a victory in Miami."
During the week, Holmes said the Jets should be able to take advantage of their matchups on the outside. He certainly did as the Jets again missed the services of TE Dustin Keller and rookie WR Stephen Hill struggled before exiting the game late with a hamstring injury.
"It's just huge. He keeps working and the coverage is rolled to him over and over and over," said Jets head coach Rex Ryan said of Holmes. "He keeps on digging. I'm really happy with the way he blocked too. He gets in the mix. And honestly we're really fortunate that he's on this football team."
Next week, the 49ers will visit MetLife Stadium with their punishing defense. The challenge will only get tougher, but the Jets stayed perfect inside the division and Holmes played a key role in the outcome.
"My mom always told me that big-time players make big plays in big games," he told SNY. "I think this was a moment where we all had to show our willpower. It was about who wanted it more. I think our team wanted it a little bit more than theirs."