Everything that happened Thursday night in Cincinnati looked irrelevant the moment Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was slammed to the ground in the second quarter in such a way you knew there was a serious problem. Tua stayed own. The team lined near him as he went off on a stretcher. He was taken to the nearby University of Cincinnati hospital and the Dolphins announced was, “conscious and has movement in all his extremities.”
This is the nightmare of any football player and it’s compounded by questions that began last Sunday when Tua returned from what the team initially announced as a head injury. It sure appeared that way when he went woozy after his head bounced on the field. But Tua returned to play, announced it was actually a back issue and, well, a NFL neurologist allowed him to return with the idea he didn’t have a concussion.
The players’ union, though, announced it was launching an investigation, suggesting that things looked as odd as they played out. And … well, four days later Tua was thrown to the ground by Cincinnati defensive lineman Josh Tupou and he suffered what appeared be a serious issue. Let’s allow the facts to come in on Tua’s condition. The good news: He was expected to be released from the hospital and return with the team to South Florida. But there’s going to be some more questions about these last four days and the handing of Tua. It centers on the simple question that will put the NFL and the Dolphins under a microscope: Should Tua have been playing Thursday night?
2. Quote of the night: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua’s former Dolphins teammate, said on the Amazon halftime set with Tony Gonzalez and Richard Sherman: “We all played a lot of football, but that’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever seen.”
3. Tweet of the night: The league announced that protocol was followed in Tua’s examination Sunday. The NFLPA’s investigation hasn’t started. But others in the medical community are weighing in. From Chris Nowinski, a neurologist who tweeted, “This is a disaster. Pray fo Tua. Fire the medical staffs and coaches. I predicted thia s and I hate that I am right. Two concussions and 5 days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022.”
OK, as far as the game:
4. Player of the game: Cincinnati safety Vonn Bell with two interceptions. Teddy Bridgewater entered for Tua in the second quarter and completed six of his first seven passes for 71 yards, a touchdown and a 148.5 quarterback rating. So there was no rust from sitting out for weeks. There was, however, a costly interception as he was moving the Dolphins for the would-be go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. On second-and-10 at the Cincinnati 26, safety Bell got his second interception at the 9-yard line and returned it to the Miami 45.
5. The Dolphins defense expected to be dog-tired after playing 90 pays against Buffalo on Sunday. When Cincinnati took the opening possession 75 yard down the field for a touchdown, it seemed to reinforce that idea. But the defense didn’t break this night and, until Xavien Howard left, gave Cincinnati fits. Case in point: Cincinnati ran the ball 28 times for 69 yards (2.5-yard average). The problem was it couldn’t get off the field enough again. After Buffalo went 9-of-16 on third downs, Cincinnati went eight of 15. Numbers like that encourage long drives.
6. When Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins got deep in the second quarrer for a 59-yard touchdown, it again put the focus on cornerback Xavien Howard. You put him on an island like the Dolphins have again this year and he’s going to get beat at times,e especially when he battling a groin issue and then goes out of the game with a leg issue. As Amazon’s Al Michaels said, “No fear picking on Howard tonight.” Howard has been the Dolphins best player the last couple of years and so the coverage on Higgins’ touchdown wasn’t unusual. Both Dolphins safeties moved to the other side as they did this game to help a more inexperienced cornerback (Nik Needham, Kaher Kohou or Keon Crossen , where receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd worked. That left Howard with alone and Higgins running into the end zone. Of course, when Howard left the game in the second half, Joe Burrow began picking apart the Dolphins.
7. How did Kansas City ever get rid of Tyreek Hill? He’s been the best player on the field all four games this year. On Thursday night, his 64-yard catch from Bridgewater set up the Dolphins at the Bengals 5-yard line in the third quarter. They just got a field goal out of that. But he got deep earlier in the game and Tua underthew him. He moved the defense all night, too, clearing out space for others in a manner that showed how they fear his impact. Through four games, he’s clearly the Dolphins’ MVP.
8. The Dolphins running game remains an issue. Where was it most of the night? This is a game Mike McDaniel had to go in wanting to eat up some clock and keep the defense on the sideline. Then, with the loss of Tua, that only added to the idea. Through three quarters, the Dolphins ran for 40 yards on 15 carries (2.7-yard average). Cincinnati has a good run defense, ranking eighth in the league, but was without its top defensive tackle, D.J. Reader. The Dolphins ran for 65, 86 and 41 yards the first three weeks. That’s not much. The statement play: Third-and-inches at their 34, Chase Edmonds is thrown for a one-yard loss and the Dolphins punt. In the fourth quarter, Raheem Mostert got loose a couple of times and ended with 15 carries for 69 yards.
9. Quick hits:
- It seems ex-Dolphins coaches are everywhere, but the Cincinnati’s top coaches are Zac Taylor, a former Dophins quarrterback coach under Joe Philbin, and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, the former secondary coach.
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made 146 of 148 extra points in his career before missing Thursday night off the goal post just before half. That kept the Cincinnati lead at 14-12 before halftime.
10. Next week: Dolphins at New York Jets on Oct. 9. After a small break, the Dolphins go to the Meadowlands to play the 1-2 Jets. Quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to return for Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh after missing the opening four games. After a tough opening schedule of New England, at Baltimore, Buffalo and Thursday night at Cincinnati, the Jets represent the start of a schedhules that eases up some for the Dolphins. After the Jets, the Dolphins play Minnesota and Pittsburgh at home before going on he road at Detroit and Chicago.
Source: Berkshire mont
Be First to Comment