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Tua Tagovailoa silences critics in 6 TD days, overwhelms Ravens from 21-point deficit at halftime

The Baltimore Ravens appeared to have secured a bye against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Tua Tagovailoa had another idea. The Dolphins quarterback led the recovery from a 28-7 halftime deficit and late in the fourth quarter he tied the game at 35-35 to give the Dolphins a stunning 42-38 victory.

Tagovailoa entered the season and day with a myriad of questions about his ability downfield and whether he could lead an explosive offense alongside receivers Tyreek Hill and Waddle. Sunday’s answer was an overwhelming yes. He finished the day completing 36 of 50 pass attempts for 469 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Hill’s second touchdown of the day was a 60-yard bomb that tied the game at 35–35.

Baltimore responded with a field goal to regain the lead at 38-35. Tagovailoa followed up by leading another touchdown drive that was capped by an end zone traffic 7-yard dart to Jalen Waddle for his second touchdown.

That score secured a 42-38 lead with 14 seconds left on the clock, and the Ravens were unable to find a corresponding miracle. And Tagovailoa secured his signature victory this past three seasons to silence the critics who have haunted him for most of his NFL career.

Tua bounces back from ugly start

The day in Tagovailoa got off to an inauspicious start. The Ravens started the game with a 103-yard Devin DuVernay touchdown return on the opening kickoff. Dolphin responded by driving into Ravens territory on his first possession. However, Tagovailoa threw his second and his sixth ill-fitting balls into traffic from his 29-yard line in Baltimore. Instead of finding its intended target, Hill, the ball bounced into the air and into the hands of Ravens safety Marcus Williams.

The Ravens didn’t capitalize on subsequent possessions, but ultimately led 21-7 in a shaky second quarter for the Dolphins. Then they chose Tagovailoa again. With 1:25 remaining in the second quarter, Tagovailoa threw a deep ball down the left flank to score double coverage. It was intercepted again by Williams.

This time, the Ravens responded with a touchdown. Tagovailoa scored a touchdown and he had two turnovers, plus the Dolphins tied him 28–7 going into halftime. Faced with the pressure of a do-or-die season after the high-profile acquisition of Hill, the knife was pointed at Tagovailoa during the break.

He responded with half of his NFL career.

This is the Tua Tagovailoa game that Dolphins fans have been waiting for. (Tommy Gilligan/Reuters)

The Dolphins started the second half with a 75-yard drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown to tight end Mike Geschke. The Ravens maintained a 21-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter after extending their lead to 35-14 on Lamar Jackson’s 79 yards. From there, it was all Tua as the Dolphins outscored Baltimore 28-3 in the final stanza.

Tagovailoa closed out the third quarter with a 33-yard connection with Waddle to position the Dolphins near midfield. That drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown toss from Tagovailoa to River Kracraft. Miami’s next possession saw Hill score his first touchdown in a Miami uniform. And it was Vintage Hill on a 48-yard strike from Tagovailoa after Hill ran past the Ravens’ secondary.

That cut Miami’s deficit to 35-28 and the Dolphins kept in business. With Hill’s extra point and Traffic’s Waddle capper, Miami secured his 2-0 start, demonstrating justified optimism that an investment in and around Tagovailoa might actually pay off.

Dolphin attacks look justifiably scary

Not only did Tagovailoa play the best game of his career in winning over one of the NFL’s best teams, he also threw touchdown passes of 48 and 60 yards to get the win. Meanwhile, Hill and Waddle ended in a monster effort. Hill recorded 11 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Waddle, a first-round draft pick by Miami in 2021, had 11 catches for 171 yards and two points.

The Dolphins on Sunday looked like a legitimate big game offense with a passing game that terrified opponents. They did so against a respected Ravens defense. Rookie head coach Mike McDaniel couldn’t have responded better to critics questioning Tagovailoa’s ability to throw the ball down the field.

Only one game, of course. However, it is difficult to discuss the results. It doesn’t matter if the Dolphins lead him 2-0 and he leads the AFC East.