Miami Dolphins’ protection steals present as Tua Tagovailoa wins debut in opposition to Los Angeles Rams

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa walked off the sphere with a large smile as his first NFL begin ended with a snug 28-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Tagovailoa threw his first NFL landing, a tight-window, goal-line slant to huge receiver DeVante Parker, then he largely took a step again as his dominant protection and special-teams items carried the offense the remainder of the best way for a convincing victory.

Following every week wherein all of the discuss was about Tagovailoa, the Dolphins’ protection compelled Rams quarterback Jared Goff into 4 first-half turnovers, together with one for a defensive landing, and speedy punt returner Jakeem Grant scored an 88-yard landing. It was a historic day of types for the Dolphins, who had a passing, dashing, special-teams and defensive TD in a sport for the primary time since Oct. 24, 1993, in opposition to the Indianapolis Colts.

“I do not assume I performed to the usual of what this offense is able to. There have been sure performs the place I might have stepped up and made the precise throw, made the precise determination. But it surely’s good that we nonetheless got here out with the win,” Tagovailoa stated. “Thank God we have got a superb protection.”

Goff might need nightmares about Miami coach Brian Flores’ protection. The Dolphins pressured Goff on 21 of his 63 dropbacks (33%), tied for the best share he has confronted in a sport this season (Chicago Bears in Week 7). Goff was 6-of-19 with two interceptions when beneath duress. The 19 makes an attempt have been tied for probably the most such makes an attempt in a sport in his profession (Week 16 of 2019 versus the San Francisco 49ers).

“We gained. We gained the sport. It is a crew soccer sport. It isn’t a one-man present. He made sufficient performs for us to win the ballgame,” Flores stated of Tagovailoa. “Collectively, if we do not play effectively in a single part, we have now to select one another up. It is his first NFL sport in opposition to an actual good protection. You bought to take that into consideration, as effectively. However the remainder of the crew picked him up, and we obtained the W.”

It was full dominance by a Dolphins protection that devised distinctive strain and complicated protection drops that made Goff look baffled a lot of the sport. The final time Goff led Rams coach Sean McVay’s offense in opposition to a Flores protection, it was an identical story: In Tremendous Bowl LIII, Flores, then the New England Patriots‘ defensive playcaller, held the Rams’ offense to only three factors. Flores accepted the Dolphins job days later. On Sunday, it appeared like one other instance that Flores might need McVay and Goff’s quantity.

Andrew Van Ginkel scored on a 78-yard fumble return that was made doable by an Emmanuel Ogbah strip sack. A Shaq Lawson strip sack put the Dolphins on the Rams’ 1-yard line to arrange a brief Myles Gaskin dashing landing. Christian Wilkins and Eric Rowe nabbed interceptions. And Goff by no means appeared snug all day because the Dolphins continued to ship unique seems his means.

“By the week, we caught wind of Rams protection this, Rams protection that. We have been like, man, they should concentrate on our protection,” Rowe stated. “That was considered one of our focuses in our thoughts — to point out up. Folks hold sleeping on our protection, and that is advantageous, however we’ll present up each week.”

As Flores added, “We utilized some strain. You need to make a quarterback really feel you.”

Dolphins security Bobby McCain made a degree to go as much as Tagovailoa throughout a few of the offense’s struggles to say, “Don’t be concerned about it.” The protection picked him up.

The Miami offense’s 145 complete yards have been its fewest in a win since Week 14 of 2010 (131 yards vs. New York Jets) and fewest by a crew to win by double digits for the reason that 2006 Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-13 with 107 complete yards. However greater than something, it confirmed that the Dolphins have sufficient of their supporting forged to make sure Tagovailoa would not have to be a famous person for this crew to win.

As for Tagovailoa, he turned the twenty second Dolphins quarterback to start out a sport since Dan Marino retired in 2000. Dolphins followers hope he would be the one to get it proper. And if there’s one factor Tagovailoa confirmed Sunday, it is that he can take some exhausting hits and transfer round effectively in his first vital motion since a career-threatening hip harm on Nov. 16, 2019, whereas he was taking part in with Alabama.

It was a rocky begin for Tagovailoa, headlined by a strip sack from Rams All-Professional defender Aaron Donald on his first dropback. He additionally was nailed by Rams defensive sort out Michael Brockers on the identical play. It was his first vital hit for the reason that hip harm.

“It was a superb hit. It is soccer. Tried to step up and make a throw. Aaron Donald swiped on the ball behind me. I do not know who the man was that took me off my ft and just about body-slammed me, however that is soccer,” Tagovailoa stated. “I am not going to lie; I did take pleasure in getting hit that first time. That was undoubtedly a welcome hit.”

Tagovailoa settled down towards the tip of the quarter, when he led a landing drive that resulted in that throw to Parker. He leaped for a hip bump with Parker and cradled the ball as he carried it to the sidelines. Tagovailoa stated with amusing after the sport that he will likely be holding that soccer.

That second and that soccer would be the lasting picture from Tagovailoa’s first begin. He was mobbed with hugs on the sidelines by teammates, together with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the veteran signal-caller whom he changed.

Tagovailoa completed with 12-of-22 passing for 93 yards, one landing and 0 interceptions. He’s the primary QB to win his first profession begin with fewer than 100 passing yards and 20-plus makes an attempt since Donovan McNabb in 1999. Tagovailoa was rusty at occasions with some overthrows early on, earlier than the Dolphins’ offense obtained conservative for a lot of the second half whereas sitting on its sizable lead. It wasn’t a showcase sport for Tagovailoa, however the Dolphins picked up their rookie in guiding him to his first win.

“It was enjoyable to have the ability to play a full, 60-minute sport being that it was my first begin within the NFL,” Tagovailoa stated. “We confronted a extremely good protection. I am happy with what we obtained to do offensively, and I do know there’s nonetheless loads of issues that we have to appropriate.”

The scene for Tagovailoa’s first begin was written like a Hollywood script. Marino watched from the sideline as Tagovailoa and the offense warmed up earlier than the sport. Tagovailoa shared a heat hug with Fitzpatrick earlier than his first snap, then jogged onto the sphere, the place he was met with a standing ovation and notable cheers from the socially distanced followers at Laborious Rock Stadium.

The Dolphins (4-3) jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead over the Rams (5-3) even because the offense completed with 54 yards, the fewest complete yards by a crew to attain 28 first-half factors prior to now 40 seasons. However that provides Tagovailoa and the Dolphins one thing to work on this week as they savor their first week and rising above .500 for the primary time since Week 15 of the 2018 season, after their Miami Miracle win over the Patriots.

“They confirmed numerous psychological toughness this week with the QB change,” Flores stated. “There have been numerous issues occurring aside from soccer, and people guys put that apart and performed effectively.”

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