JACKSONVILLE – It was a game and a day Rayshawn Jenkins will never forget.
Jenkins, the Jaguars’ legendary tight safety, capped the best game of his NFL career — and one of the best defensive plays in the Jaguars’ 28-year history — with the biggest play of his career: a 52-yard interception return in overtime. and a touchdown in a 40-34 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday afternoon.
“That was great to do that,” Jenkins said.
Outside linebacker Josh Allen called it “one of the best plays I’ve seen in this building.”
“What a great game that was,” Allen said. “What a great achievement.”
Jenkins’ game-winning drive ended with 6:52 left in overtime. It started 12 seconds ago, after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott moved a step or two to his left and threw to wide receiver Noah Brown, who earlier Sunday caught two touchdown passes but these passes bounced off his hands.
The ball bounced to Jenkins, who caught the ball low but cleared it into the grass. Jenkins picked off a block from Foye Oluokun in Prescott, then raced for his first-ever touchdown return at any level of football.
“I was just thinking about going and scoring,” Jenkins said. “I saw it coming out of the air and I said, ‘Yo, I’ve got to score here. It’s just Dak.’ I caught it, somebody got it in a big spot, I was running for daylight, almost pulled a muscle and everything, I had to score, that’s cool.
All I could do was [waving to the fans] That’s all I could think: ‘Bye-bye’. Go to the next one.”
Jenkins, who had six NFL starts before Sunday, played mostly on offense in high school and didn’t return any of his nine interceptions at the University of Miami for a touchdown.
“The crazy thing is earlier this week I was sitting on my couch one day thinking, ‘I’ve never had a Pick Six in the NFL or something like that,'” he said. “The crazy thing is both of them happened today, it happened well. That was crazy.”
Jenkins’ touchdown not only capped a come-from-behind victory, but it also capped an impressive day for the sixth-ranked veteran who is now in his second season with the Jaguars. Not only did he score the game-winning touchdown, but he also intercepted another pass that led to a key third down and finished the game with a team-high 18 tackles.
Allen called it “one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.”
“We need it,” Allen said. “We needed guys to make plays like this to win games like this. He was that guy. This is the momentum we need.”
Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, “He had a crazy day, which was scary.”
Lawrence then reported that it was Jenkins’ first career interception return for a touchdown.
“It was a really good time,” Lawrence said.