1) Tua Shines in Second Start
I'm not sure you could ask for a better performance from start to finish than what was provided by rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. His poise, leadership and execution was on full display, leading the Miami Dolphins to a much-needed road victory over a talented Arizona Cardinals team. In a back-and-forth football game, Tagovailoa answered time and time again, pushing the ball down field when needed and also using his legs to escape trouble and keep drives alive. The Dolphins faced a fourth-quarter deficit, and Tua answered by putting together two scoring drives. The first was a thing of beauty, going 10 plays, 93 yards ending with a Tagovailoa to Mack Hollins 11-yard score to tie the game at 31. He showed his ability to come up with clutch throws, going five-for-five on the drive for 53 yards, and also scrambling for 18 yards on the ground. The second drive started with a strike to tight end Mike Gesicki, where Tua displayed poise in the pocket. He followed up that completion with another, this time to Jakeem Grant for nine yards. Five plays in total for 28 yards was enough to provide placekicker Jason Sanders an opportunity to take the lead for good. Tagovailoa displayed multiple winning traits under extreme pressure, in only his second game in over a year! There are only a tiny percentage of NFL quarterbacks that have that ability to shine when the game is on the line, and Tagovailoa has it.
2) Defense Scores Again
It's becoming a habit to see this Dolphins defense crash the pocket, separate the football from the opposing quarterback, and sprint into the end zone for six points! Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah sacked Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for his seventh sack of the season, forcing the fumble that fellow defensive end Shaq Lawson scooped up and sprinted 36 yards for the touchdown. This was Miami's second defensive score in as many weeks, and it's these types of plays energize the entire team. They are points that you don't game plan for, but can be the difference between winning and losing a game. This play was equally as important as the late fourth-and-one stop where the entire right side of the defense seemed to contribute in the effort. Linebacker Elandon Roberts and defensive tackle Zach Sieler were just two of the defenders that I can recall winning their one on one battles at the line of scrimmage that turned back the Cardinals offense. In today's NFL, you need an offense that can score in the thirties with regularity, and sometimes that doesn't guarantee your team a victory. But a defense that can consistently provide positive field position for the offense and also score points should win more times than not.
3) True Team Win
It was a next man up mentality not only for the players on the field, but for the Dolphins coaching staff as well. Five assistant coaches were placed in COVID-19 protocol and weren't able to coach this past Sunday in Arizona. The coaches, trainers, quality control assistants and strength coaches that remained did a fabulous job crossing over to assist other positions and did it seamlessly. The players on the field followed suit when injury occurred and some made enormous contributions. When wide out Preston Williams went down with a foot injury after his second-quarter touchdown reception, Mack Hollins was able to pick up when Williams left off. Hollins had big shoes to fill because Williams led the team in receiving in the first half with four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown. Hollins didn't disappoint and his response was an 11 yard touchdown grab in the fourth quarter. It was his first reception in a Dolphins uniform, and he used his size at 6'4 to snag the football away from the Arizona defender in the end zone for the score. Also, rookie running back Salvon Ahmed did a nice job running the ball in place of the injured Myles Gaskin. Ahmed showed his speed and quickness in his NFL debut, rushing for 38 yards. It was the most by a Miami player in his debut since Jay Ajayi in 2015! Ahmed's running style resembles the way Gaskin hits the hole with a burst, and maybe more suited for an expanded role in future weeks.