With a stunning performance in a wild showdown against the Ravens on Sunday, Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins put the NFL on notice with an electric come-from-behind victory in Baltimore.
The third-year quarterback, in the midst of a career day, punctuated his first signature NFL outing with a touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle to lift Miami to a 42–38 win. The game-winning score added one final feather in Tagovailoa’s cap on a day where he also out-dueled a red-hot Lamar Jackson to bring his team back from a 28–7 halftime deficit in a hostile environment on the road.
When it was all said and done, Tagovailoa finished the day 36-of-50 for 469 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions while taking one sack. Jackson, meanwhile, turned in a monster game of his own in defeat, finishing 21-of-29 for 318 yards and three touchdowns to go with nine carries for 119 yards and an absurd 79-yard score in the third quarter.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Tagovailoa was asked to recall when he last had a game like this, and cited his final game at Alabama, when the former Crimson Tide star went for 418 yards and four touchdowns in a victorious shootout with LSU. He then described how it felt to have the offense click the way it did.
“It feels good,” Tagovailoa said. “I think, you look at the first half, we couldn’t stick to our rhythm. For me, I wanted big plays, and big plays now. So, really, second half, we came in and played the way we wanted to. That’s what I’d say about that.”
And away they went.
With the exception of a few outlying grabs, Tagovailoa’s big day came as a result of his impressive chemistry with his top two targets. While some QBs may have just one right-hand man, in Tagovailoa’s case, the QB turned to a dynamic pair of “left-hand men” in Waddle and big-time free-agent acquisition Tyreek Hill.
After connecting with Waddle for the Dolphins’ lone score in the first half, Tagovailoa led Miami to five straight touchdown drives in the second half, including the game-winner from seven yards out. Hill finished the game with a staggering 11 catches for 190 yards and two booming TD grabs of 48 and 60 yards. Waddle, who turned in a standout rookie campaign a year ago, came through for his QB once again with an 11-reception, 170-yard, two-touchdown outing of his own.
Given the amount of success Tagovailoa had with the speedy tandem, the offense appears to be heading in the right direction. The humble quarterback indicated the same after he was asked if the performance boosted his confidence in any way.
“I would say I’m always confident in what I can do, confident in myself. But I think that just shows the resiliency in our team,” he said. “It brings all our confidence up, confidence in one another, confidence that if the offense has a turnover, the defense is gonna get us the ball back and vice versa.”
With Sunday’s showcase now in the rearview mirror, the Dolphins are preparing to move full speed ahead after gaining momentum over a formidable foe and AFC contender. We’ll see what Tua and Co. does for an encore in another potentially explosive matchup against Josh Allen and the Bills at home next week.
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