By: Brandon Liguori
Despite an 11-point victory a week ago vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Tua Tagovailoa, in his inaugural start under center as a professional, tossed 93 yards. A week later, with Miami missing five of its team coaches due to COVID-19, the former Alabama graduate easily eclipsed that mark, securing two touchdown throws in the Dolphins’ 34-31 victory Sunday afternoon against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, their fourth consecutive victory and first in the state of Arizona since 1996.
“He made a lot of plays for us, a lot of big plays, especially down the stretch when we needed it,” head coach Brian Flores said on Tagovailoa, who completed 22/28 for 248 yards to go along with a passer rating above 100, too. Tagovailoa’s two touchdown throws went to Preston Williams in the opening quarter, who appeared to have injured his foot while celebrating with teammates and a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown to Mack Hollins, his first of his professional career.
“I would say it was a lot better than the Rams game. We’re going to enjoy it and come in Monday and watch film with one another. We’ll see what we can learn from and continue to work,” Tagovailoa said, who improved to 2-0 in two career starts. Josh Boyer’s unit gave Kyler Murray, who totaled more rushing yards (106) than the Dolphins as a whole (91), fits all afternoon, but the former Oklahoma standout was able to scamper away from different blitz packages and target his receivers. “Yeah, I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They came in and created a takeaway early. Big points there. They’re playing good. They’re playing physical,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Murray accounted for four total touchdowns, with three coming from his arm. “I’ve only been around him a couple times. Nothing but love for him and his family. He obviously played well today, well enough to beat us,” Murray said on Tagovailoa. Arizona had a great opportunity late in the fourth quarter to even the game at 34, but kicker Zane Gonzalez’s 49-yard field goal attempt was short.
On the ensuing possession, Tagovailoa, facing a 3rd-and-1 from his own 48, ran a quarterback sneak for a game-sealing first down, taking a knee on the final two plays from scrimmage. “There wasn’t much change in practice throughout the week. Coming into this week, we were able to get into a rhythm offensively in the pass game and we were able to use that to our advantage as well,” Tagovailoa said
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