It is official. Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins starting quarterback, taking the opening offensive snap for the first time. Miami is now his team. The game did not need much from the rookie, but the Dolphins came away with the win, pushing them over .500 as they won their third-straight game.
Miami won this game on defense and special teams in the first half. The second half felt like team went pure conservative, not wanting to give up the big play on defense and only wanting to run the clock on offense. It clinched the win, but it definitely did not feel the same as the high-powered first half.
First Half Recap
Miami won the coin toss, but deferred the decision to the second half. The Rams started with the ball, turning to Darrell Henderson early against a Dolphins defense that has struggled to stop the run this year. He picked up eight yards on two carries, converting a first down after a five-yard neutral zone infraction on Miami, before Jared Goff had two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage to set up 3rd-and-10. Goff overthrew Cooper Kupp on the play and the Rams punted.
The Dolphins’ first drive with Tagovailoa under center was a short one. Myles Gaskin picked up three yards on first down, then Tagovailoa dropped back to pass, only to have Aaron Donald strip the ball from his hand as he prepared to throw, leading to a strip sack and the Rams recovering.
Starting with the ball at the Miami 15-yard line, Los Angeles did not have to move far to take the lead. Henderson picked up 11 yards on two plays, then Robert Woods took an end-around handoff and walked into the endzone. Rams 7-0.
Miami’s second drive lasted longer, but did not put up any points. After a kick return to the 49-yard line from Jakeem Grant, Gaskin picked up four yards before a run-pass option read from Tagovailoa led to an eight-yard gain on a slant thrown to Preston Williams. The next three plays, however, featured an incomplete pass, a pass to Gaskin for no gain, and another incomplete pass. Matt Haack managed to pin the Rams at their own seven-yard line after the team took a delay of game penalty to provide a little more space for the punter.
The Rams continued to attack the Dolphins defense, with Henderson able to pick up 18 yards on the first play of the drive. After an incomplete pass and a one-yard gain on a pass from Goff to Kupp, Goff was able to find Woods on a 17-yard gain on 3rd-and-9. Malcolm Brown then took a handoff and gained six yards before two incomplete passes, including another batted ball by the Dolphins’ defense, and Los Angeles was forced to punt.
Miami went three-and-out on their next drive, a possession that included a two-yard run from Tagovailoa.
After a 63-yard punt from Haack and a holding penalty on Los Angeles the Rams started at their own 12-yard line, with Brown picking up five yards. Goff then threw to Kupp for 14 yards, pushing the line of scrimmage out to the Rams’ 31-yard line. After another pass for eight yards to Kupp, Emmanuel Ogbah came clean off the end of the line, leading to Goff forcing an early pass and throwing the ball straight to a dropping defenisve tackle Christian Wilkins. Miami took over at the Los Angeles 33-yard line after the interception.
Christian Wilkins pick! pic.twitter.com/8Sn7AD1kO8— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
Tagovailoa threw to tight end Durham Smythe for eight yards to start the drive, then Gaskin ran for three yards. Tagovailoa looked deep to Jakeem Grant on the next play, picking up 15 yards . After an incomplete pass and a Gaskin four-yard gain, Tagovailoa was able to connect with DeVante Parker for a three-yard touchdown, Tagovailoa’s first career touchdown pass. Tied 7-7.
Maybe save this video. TOUCHDOWN TUA!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
After a six-play, 40-yard drive from the Rams led to a punt, the game went insane. The Dolphins started their next drive at their own three-yard line, with Gaskin running up the middle for six yards, but fumbled and gave the Rams the ball at the Dolphins’ seven.
The Rams started their drive with a two-yard loss from Henderson as Elandon Roberts broke through the line. Then Emmanuel Ogbah came around unblocked to strip Goff on the sack, with Andrew Van Ginkel picking up the ball and running 78 yards for a score. Dolphins 14-7.
Offense fumbles and the Rams are in control.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
Dolphins defense: “Hold my beer...”
Los Angeles went three-and-out on their next possession, with Jakeem Grant returning the punt 88 yards for a touchdown. Dolphins 21-7.
Yeah, you try to catch that guy.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
The Rams then appeared to return to the running game, the one thing that seemed to work for them in the half. Cam Akers picked up 10 yards on first down, then another five on the next play. Woods ran an end-around for five yards on 2nd-and-5, then Goff threw to Woods for eight yards. Akers picked up another four yards, then Goff threw to Tyler Higbee for a yard. On 2nd-and-9, Goff looked to Gerald Everett as the quarterback was pressured up the middle and Eric Rowe came down with the interception.
After Miami could not do anything with the ball and punted following a three-and-out, the Rams got the ball back at their own 29-yard line. Brown picked up two yards before a Goff incomplete pass. Goff dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-8, with Shaq Lawson coming in for the strip-sack, a fumble that Kyle Van Noy picked up and ran all the way to the one-yard line.
Gaskin ran the ball into the endzone on the next play for a one-yard score. Dolphins 28-7.
The Gaskin 1 yard score.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
Los Angeles was able to put together a full drive on their next possession, starting with an 11-yard run from Brown. A roughing the passer penalty on Rowe, who hit Goff around his shins, negated an incomplete pass, but was followed by another incomplete pass that led to the 2-minute warning. After an offensive holding penalty, Goff was able to find Kupp for nine yards. Another Goff to Kupp pass picked up 13 yards before Goff threw to Everett for five yards. The Goff-Kupp connection then picked up 22 yards before an incomplete pass. Goff threw to Josh Reynolds for nine yards before Van Jefferson made a diving catch, sliding his shin on the ground to complete the reception, for eight yards. After passes of three yards to Brown and seven yards to Reynolds, Goff three two incomplete passes in the endzone. The Rams settled for the field goal. Dolphins 28-10.
First Half Reactions
That was definitely not the way anyone had hoped the first drive would unfold. All the worry about Donald and what he would do to Tagovailoa proved real on the first pass attempt of the game for Miami. At least Tagovailoa did not wear Darnold like a backpack.
Miami’s defense is struggling early, especially against the run. They are playing too far off in pass defense, with the Rams using short passes early to set up a rhythm.
Tagovailoa looks like a rookie making his first start. Some of his passes look like he is trying to place the ball, rather than simply throwing the ball.
How did Goff not see Wilkins? That is a GIANT man to just completely miss, but it worked for the Dolphins.
TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Tua’s first touchdown on a slant to Parker. Great throw. Great catch with a defender on Parker’s back. Great play!
The canopy doing amazing things today:
That canopy is awesome. pic.twitter.com/XsdZmFPXJp— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 1, 2020
BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That seems like the right reaction at this point.
That first half was ridiculous. Miami finished the half with 54 yards of offense, but a 28-10 lead. Just insane.
Second Half Recap
The Dolphins received the opening kickoff of the second half. Despite a nine-yard gain on a second-down pass from Tagovailoa to Gaskin, the Dolphins failed to convert on a Wildcat play and Miami punted after the three-and-out.
The Rams matched Miami with their own three-and-out, including a play where Elandon Roberts simply destroyed the line and fullback to tackle Brown for a three-yard loss.
Miami started their drive with Tagovailoa throwing for seven yards to Gaskin, then throwing to Malcolm Perry, another rookie making his debut in this game, for 10 yards. The Dolphins ran the Wildcat on the next play, picking up three yards on a snap to Perry and a hand off to Matt Breida. Miami went back to the Wildcat on the next play, buy Aaron Donald blew up the line and met Perry in the backfield for a five-yard loss. Tagovailoa threw incomplete on the next play and Miami punted.
Los Angeles continued trying to match Miami’s second-half drives, running five plays themselves, starting with a Brown run for three yards, then a Goff pass to Reynolds for 13 yards. Brown then picked up four yards, before two incomplete passes. The Rams punted.
Miami went three-and-out on their next drive.
Goff threw for six yards on a pass to Kupp on the next play, then Akers ran for two yards before a 26-yard catch-and-run for Woods. Goff looked deep to Kupp for an apparent 34-yard gain, but a holding penalty negated the gain. Akers picked up three yards on the 1st-and-20 play, then Goff threw an incomplete pass, followed by a seven-yard gain on a pass to Everett. On 4th-and-10, however, Goff threw incomplete, with another pass deflected at the line of scrimmage, and Miami took over on downs.
Miami went three-and-out on the drive, with the team clearly looking to start chewing clock as Gaskin ran on first and second downs, plus on the negated play in between the two downs when Miami was called for holding, before Tagovailoa threw for seven yards on a 3rd-and-14 play. Miami punted.
Los Angeles started with a Akers run for four yards, then another for five yards, and then another for two yards. Goff then threw to Kupp for six yards, then Woods for eight yards. Goff looked to Reynolds for a 15-yard pass on the next play, then came back to Jefferson for 15 yards on the next snap. Goff found Akers for 19 yards before handing the ball to Brown for four yards. Goff then looked to Woods on a crossing route across the endzone for an 11-yard score. Dolphins 28-17.
Tagovailoa threw for eight yards to start the drive, connecting with Durham Smythe on the play. Gaskin then picked up a yard to set up a 3rd-and-1 play. Tagovailoa threw a pass to Isaiah Ford for a 10-yard gain and a Miaim first down. Breida picked up no yards on the next play, followed by a Mike Gesicki catch for eight yards. Gaskin dropped the third-down throw and Miami was forced to punt.
Miami looked to force the Rams to eat up clock on their drive, allowing completions but trying to keep anything from being a big play. The drive started with a nine-yard pass to Kupp, then a 13-yard pass to Higbee. Goff threw to Woods for nine yards on the next play, then Brown picked up four yards After an incomplete pass, Goff found Kupp for seven yards at midfield. Goof then threw to Kupp again for 15 yards. After an incomplete pass, Goff found Everett for five yards, then threw another incomplete pass. Los Angeles lined up for the field goal to pull the game within eight points, but a shank on the kick led to a wide left attempt and Miami took over.
The offense continued the chewing clock plan, with Gaskin running six-straight times to force the Rams to use their timeouts. Miami punted after a six-play, 18-yard drive.
The Rams tried to make a last minute drive, but picked up just 35 yards before the clock ran out.
Second Half Reactions
What a play by Roberts. Just ripped through the line, crushed his way through Everett as the lead blocked and tackled Brown in the backfield for a three-yard loss. That was just nasty.
The game definitely slowed down in the second half. Miami went very conservative in the third quarter, trying to run the clock.
As the clock reaches six minutes reamining, the defense is way too conservative. Goff is finding receivers on every play. They are eating some of the clock, but the Rams are moving too easily.
The second half felt completely differently than the first half, and it is not like we really saw anything that can confirm or deny what Tagovailoa is as a quarterback, but it is a win and keeps the Dolphins in contention for the AFC East and the Wildcard.