Jimmy Wilson had been practicing the scheme all week. And Sunday the play unfolded exactly as he envisioned.
In the first quarter of the Dolphins’ 30-9 win over the New York Jets, the second-year defensive back blocked a punt on the 20-yard line, which Olivier Vernon recovered for Miami’s first touchdown of the day.
“When he hiked it, I came through and I couldn’t believe I didn’t get touched,” Wilson said. “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss it when I got there.”
Wilson said the play was designed for him and Jon Amaya to hit the same gap, and force Tim Tebow, who was acting as the punt protector, to choose which one of them to pick up.
When Tebow decided on Amaya, Wilson had a clear path to the ball.
“[Special teams coordinator Darren] Rizzi just told me, ‘Make sure you are on time because they’re a quick-snap team.’ [Tebow] is a smart guy, but we threw a lot of pressure at him. There were two guys coming at him at the same time. He had to take one of us, so it’s really not his fault. We called the right play at the right time.
“I’m a seventh-round pick so I know special teams is going to be my way to where I want to be in life.”
Wilson only regrets not being the one to cross the goal line. After making the block, his mind immediately reeled forward: “Where’s the ball? I want the touchdown. Aw, OV stole it.”
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin called the play “impressive to watch” and credited Rizzi and assistant to special teams coach Dave Fipp with creating the game plan.
“We don’t rush the punter every play,” Philbin said. “It was a good situation.”
Wilson said starting the game off with a statement was especially important this week, coming off their bye.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t come out rusty or slacking,” Wilson said. “So our coaches had plays and our players knew we had to be aggressive from the jump.”
The blocked punt was one of many highlights for Wilson.
The Jets were punting on that drive because Wilson had just sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez on a corner blitz on third-and-seven, earning him his first career sack.
“He sacks the quarterback and the very next play he gets a blocked punt with a touchdown,” Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith said. “It was a big momentum swing for us and definitely put them in a hole.”
Wilson has seen more snaps on defense since Vontae Davis was traded and with Richard Marshall out the past three weeks with a back injury.
Wilson proved his value Sunday from beginning to end. He also broke up a potential Jets touchdown on the 5-yard line with a minute to go in the game.
“Jimmy’s been working hard ever since he got here,” Smith said. “He’s been asked to step up with some injuries in the secondary, so his role has increased.
“And to give him credit, he still has to play special teams. It’s a whole lot of workload for him and he’s been stepping up.”