MIAMI GARDENS — It seems like an eternity since the Jaguars’ defense found the end zone.
On Sunday, linebacker Telvin Smith made prophets out of his teammates and himself when he snared a fourth quarter interception and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, sealing a 17-7 conquest of the Miami Dolphins.
“At the beginning of the series, I said I was going to catch a pick,” said Smith. “On the sideline, you’d be surprised how many people said, ‘Telvin is about to make a play.’ They ran up to me after the play [saying], ‘I was like, bruh, I said you were about to make that play.’
“Everybody was just speaking it into existence. I just went out there and finished it off. I appreciate everybody in their belief.”
Smith also acknowledged that in the pregame, he told teammates the defense would hold Miami to seven points.
“It’s crazy, the power of the tongue,” Smith said with a smile.
On a day where both offenses struggled to put up points, the Jaguars’ defense — which had seven TDs in 2017 — saved the day.
The timing of Smith’s pick-six was almost identical to the interception return for a touchdown that Myles Jack had in the season opener against the New York Giants. That was a 32-yard pickoff of Eli Manning, giving the Jaguars a 20-9 lead early in the fourth quarter that they ended up winning 20-15.
Now it was Smith’s turn to provide the heroics that gave the Jaguars only their second win since September.
As Calais Campbell pressured Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill, making it impossible for him to step into the throw, an alert Smith cut in front of intended target Kalen Ballage and easily cradled the ball. He virtually jogged into the end zone, picking up a 15-yard taunting penalty as he pointed at Dolphins’ tight end Mike Gesicki.
“Linebackers, man, it’s always great to see Telvin get in that zone, point at somebody, do a celebration,” said Jack. “That’s our captain, so any time he’s doing big things, it just fires everybody else up and we just continue making plays.”
Smith, one of the most animated Jaguars’ players, was feeling rather giddy when talking about the game’s biggest play. He didn’t seem to be feeling any remorse over the taunting penalty either.
“Listen, listen, don’t think you’re going to chase me down, tackle me when I got the rock,” Smith said. “None of that, or I’m going to point at ya and get you right.
“Today was just big plays, everybody playing hard. I knew they were about to throw the pick when we had the pressure. I saw the [potential] sack about to go down. I saw [Tannehill’s] eyes get big. He was fixin’ to throw it to me. Great play.”
The interception was a culmination of a lockdown day for the Jaguars’ defense, which allowed only 105 yards after Miami’s touchdown drive on the opening possession. Tannehill completed only 5 of 10 passes for 50 yards in the second half, while the Dolphins’ run game managed just 62 yards all day.
“They threw the first punch, but we tightened up and got it right,” said Jack.