Tua Tagovailoa wins NFL debut against Los Angeles Rams
It was a moment he, his family, and indeed the the NFL world had been waiting for: Tua Tagovailoa’s NFL debut as starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
It was like a scene from a Hollywood film; the two-week build up after being named the starter for the Rams game, the passing of the baton from the veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to the man who would replace him, and Dolphins legend Dan Marino in the stands watching.
Come the end of the show, Tagovailoa would leave with a 28-17 win on debut, 93 passing yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, and a success-starved city of Miami believing that this time, they have found their franchise quarterback.
While it wasn’t a vintage performance, it was a bright new day, and Tagovailoa was able to rely on the gritty Dolphin defence to lift him up.
‘I don’t think I played to the standard of what this offense is capable of. There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision. But it’s good that we still came out with the win. Thank God we’ve got a good defense,’ Tagovailoa said.
Yet make no mistake, once he is back to the Tua everyone knows from his time at Alabama, there will be days where he carries the defence, offence, and indeed the franchise.
While this movie did indeed have a fairytale finish, it started as something of a nightmare for Tagovailoa who suffered a strip-sack from the Rams Aaron Donald on his first drop back.
He was also hit hard by Michael Brockers on the same play, the first significant hit he has taken since his career-threatening hip injury on Nov. 16, 2019.
‘It was a good hit. It’s football. Tried to step up and make a throw. Aaron Donald swiped at the ball behind me. I don’t know who the guy was that took me off my feet and pretty much body-slammed me, but that’s football. ‘I’m not going to lie; I did enjoy getting hit that first time. That was definitely a welcome hit,’ added the rookie quarterback.
Tagovailoa threw his first NFL touchdown, a tight goal-line slant to wide receiver DeVante Parker, and was mobbed by his teammates as he returned to the sideline with the ball – one he has vowed to keep – tucked firmly under his arm.
‘It was fun to be able to play a full, 60-minute game being that it was my first start in the NFL. We faced a really good defense. I’m proud of what we got to do offensively, and I know there’s still plenty of things that we need to correct,’ concluded Tagovailoa.
While there will be plenty of ups and downs ahead, for now, the 22nd quarterback to start a game since Dan Marino’s retirement in 2000 has given the city of Miami hope, and something to celebrate.