Coming into the game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins were riding high, winners of five games in a row and six of their last seven. Tua Tagovailoa was 3-0 in his first three starts in the NFL, and Dolphins fans spent the week arguing over what the nickname should be for the team's dominating defense.
Then the game happened, and the Dolphins lost 20-13 to the undermanned 3-6 Denver Broncos. What's worse, Tagovailoa was benched late in the game for backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who ended a frantic comeback attempt with an interception in the end zone.
To recap: The Dolphins and their quarterback of the future came into Mile High Stadium high on life and left dazed and confused.
Offensively, it was a struggle all day for Tua and the Dolphins. He was pulled from the game in the fourth quarter, finishing 11-20 for just 83 yards and a touchdown. To say that Tua being benched was a shock would be an understatement, but there was some speculation that head coach Brian Flores pulled him out of the game because of an injury.
The play below was Tagovailoa's final snap of the game. He clearly had his lower leg rolled up on, which was not good because he'd already entered the game with an ankle injury listed on the injury report.
Dolphins ball, no??? That’s Miami’s ball. pic.twitter.com/Yruhddj0fc— Will Manso (@WillManso) November 22, 2020
In true Ryan Fitzpatrick fashion, he ended the game with an interception in the end zone. That glimpse of Fitzmagic, followed by a cold ice tub of Fitztragic, was about as on brand for ten minutes of Dolphins football as any fans have witnessed this season.
Still, the biggest question following the loss was if Tua was actually injured during the game, or if Fitzpatrick came in to seal the loss because the coaches thought Tua was that bad.
Unfortunately, after the game, the theory that Tua was benched because of his ankle was debunked. Flores confirmed he pulled the rookie just because he wasn't a fan of how he was playing. That's cool and all, but the entire Dolphins fanbase can sum up its thoughts in one word: REALLY?!
Nah, dumb decision.— Amee (@AmeeNotAmy_) November 23, 2020
Brian, let’s not do that again. https://t.co/X9vF6Ej6PU
Luckily, the Dolphins do have some good news on the horizon: The New York Jets and their 0-10 record come to town next week, so any prolonged slump is unlikely. Flores has already said Tua will be the starter in the game, but you can be assured there will be debate all week as to whether that's the right move for the franchise as the Dolphins battle for a playoff position.
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