Read the full transcript from Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's press conference on December 17, 2023.
Q. On the television broadcast, Tony Romo described the 60-yard touchdown pass to WR Jaylen Waddle was a "big arm throw." How would you describe that throw and that play?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: It was just me, just me throwing the ball to our playmaker. That's all it was. Jaylen (Waddle) made a play on that, and the result was a touchdown. That's all that was.
Q. I know after the Titans game, you said that the offense was a little bit out of sorts without WR Tyreek Hill. There was a lot of uncertainty about whether he would suit up during the week. How do you think getting in those practice reps without Tyreek helped with the execution of today's offense?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, you know, as we looked throughout the week, not having Tyreek, yeah, it's tough not having one of your star guys out there. But as a collective group, it's like, well, what are we going to do; are we going to run the ball the entire game or are we going to do action game the entire game? No, we shouldn't change who we are as an offense because one guy is out. We've got a lot of other guys that we trust, that we believed in, to keep on the team, and that's what happened out there. It's just the trust that we have in each other, and we just go out there, play what we see and play fast. As we prepared, that's sort of the mentality that we had going into this game.
Q. After the touchdown pass, you gave a talk and then kind of a (hand motion). What was that signal I guess to your sidelines?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah. It's an inside thing that I say a lot. I tell the guys a lot, 'talk to me.' So that's what it was. I mean, I just love doing that, and that's why Bradley (Chubb) said that. A lot of the guys say that, and so it was just funny that we could do it like that.
Q. What does it mean?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: It could mean a lot of things, really. It really could. When Bradley Chubb got his strip sack, he came to the sideline, I looked at him and went like that, and he heard it and was like, 'talk to me.' (laughter) It could mean a lot of things. I couldn't give a definition, but our definition right now means a lot of things.
Q. How did you feel the protection did in front of you today?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: The protection did really well. I would say on Monday with the things that had happened with guys going down and then others having to step up, it was a good rep for me throughout the entirety of the season. Things like that hadn't happened and we needed just a little bit more time so as we went through our practice this week we knew what we were up with and really it's just that. It's trusting the guy next to you. It's trusting that, hey, one guy might have lost on this play, but don't think that they're going to lose on the next time we call that play. Just trust that they'll make that block, and that's really the mentality that – not just me that I came in with but that everybody came in with.
Q. You were in this room six days ago and you said you wouldn't let what happened kind of sink the season, that this was a different Dolphins team. How did that process start over the course of the week? Did it start in the locker room? Did it start Monday or Tuesday? When did that process start saying, hey, we're going to get back up and still make something…?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I think that process started today. I say that because throughout the week, no one changed what they did within their normal routines. No one did more than what they'd normally do. Everyone knew that what we had put out Monday night was embarrassing, and it felt weird as we came into the building. One thing we wanted to do was not feel that feeling again, so in a way guys were happy that it was a short week, that we got to play again, and sort of exorcise a lot of the things that we didn't do right and take the right step forward in winning – really winning the way we did today.
Q. There's the idea out there that obviously everyone understands No. 10 is having an arguably MVP season. Does it bother you a little bit that there's kind of a narrative out there that this team will go as far as Tyreek takes them? Today you didn't have him and you went out there and you performed against a – notwithstanding their 5-9 record they have a good defense. You went up against a good defense today without No. 10. How important was it to show everybody that we love Tyreek, we understand that, but we can do this without him?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I mean, that's what everyone is going to say. Everyone is going to have their own deal with how they feel. In my personal opinion, give Tyreek the MVP or give Jaylen Waddle the MVP or give Raheem Mostert the MVP. Give all those guys the MVP. I could care less personally. I feel like everything is made about me, which makes me feel very uncomfortable and makes me feel a little weird about that. But it's a team sport. Like with '10' (Tyreek Hill) being down – I went out there when '10' was warming up. He was talking to Kyle (Johnston), he was talking to Chris Grier, I went up to him, and I told him, 'Dude, if you can't go, we got you, brother. It's a team sport. It's going to take all of us.' And he said, 'I appreciate it, but don't count me out yet.' And he made the decision, and it's tough because he's a competitor, and he wants to be out there with the guys. With not having him and to be able to put 30 points and have a shut-out by our defense should tell you a lot about the team, really, the guys on all three aspects and three phases of the game.
Q. RB Raheem Mostert is setting all kinds of team records for touchdowns this year. Can you describe how important he's been to this offense and what he's meant to you?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, he's been very important to this offense. This goes all the way back to last year. And then you listen to his journey, things that he's had to go through throughout his NFL career, being cut however many times, going through multiple teams, and then being able to have opportunities in San Fran, and really when our head coach gets the job here, this is one of the main guys that he brings in to showcase that hey, I believe in you and whatnot. He's been a tremendous part of the success that he's had offensively and the success that we have happens because the guys up front, happens because of the guys outside, and those guys are doing really well at executing, and it's really fun seeing those guys have fun and see their success.
Q. Speaking of Raheem, with his 20 touchdowns, what's it feel like for you to hand it off to him in the red zone? How confident are you that he's going to get in there when you hand it off to him?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think it starts with our play caller. It starts with our head coach. That should tell you how much trust he has to be able to call three runs in a row down there and that should tell you basically enough that the trust that our head coach has, the trust that I have with the play call to just leave it on and call it, and the trust that our guys have up front that he's going to do what he needs to do. It's good.
Q. Head Coach Mike McDaniel decided to go for it on a fourth-and-5, and you completed a pass over the middle to WR Jaylen Waddle. Can you talk about the decision and the play?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Well, the decision on that was Coach McDaniel's call. I think he had a threshold of how far we were in order for him to — wanted us to go for it. I guess it was maybe right there at the 5, while it was 4th and 5. Really we called that play, and it was just tailored for me to read it out, and Jaylen (Waddle) made a phenomenal play on that.
Q. Were you setting up the long pass to WR Jaylen Waddle with short passes coming out early in the game?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: No. I would say with Mike (McDaniel), he was just trying to get a feel off of how the defense wanted to play with '10' (Tyreek Hill) being out, if they were going to pressure more, if they weren't, what the back end was going to look like. I think in that regard, he was just trying to get the ball out as quickly as possible because it also does help our guys up front. It throws off the timing of the d-linemen with where the spot is for the quarterback. I think that that was something that Mike had done really well in the game plan for today.
Q. After taking on the Jets last month, what did you take away the most from their defense, maybe specifically their secondary, that you took to your advantage today against them?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, take what they give me. That's really what I came out with. Can't turn the ball over, although we almost had one. But yeah, I would say can't turn the ball over against a team like that, and I think we did really well with that today.
Q. With the ups and downs of this season, how ready do you think you are for this final stretch knowing what's ahead of you starting this week in Dallas?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I couldn't tell you like how ready we are for anything. I can tell you that right now we're going to enjoy this win. We're going to get ready for Dallas. That's all we're worried about. We're not worried about anything else.
Q. Keeping the main thing the main thing as far as 10 wins at this point in the season, the experience of last year when it's December to now getting those wins and taking the loss last week, just staying on track, can you touch on as far as how impactful that loss last week can help prepare you for the rest of the season going into January?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think something like that that happened on Monday could have went both ways. It could have went really good for us, could have been something really good or could have been something really bad. We could have felt sorry for ourselves, we could have felt bad that we lost, and we could have come out here and possibly done the same thing. But I think the mindset that everyone has in the building to just be able to let that go, move on, and realize what we have ahead and the opportunity that we have to do something really, really special this year.