Putting Tagovailoa’s career game in perspective. And Dolphins snap counts vs. Falcons

·3 min read

Career-best outings for Tua Tagovailoa in back-to-back games have still resulted in crushing defeats for the Dolphins, losers of six in a row.

In Week 6, making his return from fractured ribs, Tagovailoa threw for 329 yards, his first 300-yard passing game, in a 23-20 walk-off loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And Sunday, Tagovailoa threw four touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career and completed the go-ahead score with 2:27 left. But it was all for naught as Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan comfortably drove Atlanta down the field to set up the 36-yard game-winning field goal in a 30-28 loss for Miami.

Statistically, it was one of the best games of Tagovailoa’s career, which at this point is still just 13 NFL starts. It was also the first time the Dolphins had lost a game since 1995 with their quarterback throwing at least four touchdowns. Previously, the team had won its past five games when its quarterback threw for four touchdowns or more.

In his two games since returning from injury, Tagovailoa has completed 74.7 percent of his passes for 620 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. The turnovers have come in key moments, but Tagovailoa has rebounded well in both games, including giving the Dolphins the lead late against Atlanta.

One caveat with his impressive performances is that they have come against two of the three least-efficient pass defenses, according to Football Outsiders. Sunday’s road game against the Buffalo Bills will be a revealing litmus test for him. Buffalo has the most efficient pass defense in the NFL and is allowing the fewest passing yards per game (180.5).

“Never gets too high, never gets too low,” tight end Mike Gesicki of Tagovailoa. “He is confident. He knows what he is supposed to do. He goes out there and he executes at a high level, and I can’t say enough good things about him. I love playing with him and love having him back there, and bounced back great. Played a hell of a game. Played tough. You can go on and on.”

Snap counts

Malcolm Brown got the start at running back but only played five snaps and left the game early with a quadriceps injury, allowing Myles Gaskin to once again be the team’s top back. He was on the field for 46 of the offense’s 73 snaps and was the leading rusher (15 carries, 67 yards) for an offense that totaled 100 rushing yards for the first time since Week 3.

For the third consecutive game, rookie Jevon Holland started at safety and for the second consecutive game, he played every defensive snap. He recorded his first NFL sack but was in the vicinity of a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Russell Gage. After the game, cornerback Xavien Howard accepted blame for the coverage bust, saying the defense was in Cover 4, with four defensive backs covering a quarter of the field, and that “[the] corner [is] supposed to be on top.”

Inside linebacker Jerome Baker only played 10 snaps as he left early with a knee injury, which his agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WSVN doesn’t appear to be serious but will receive an MRI. With Baker sidelined, Sam Eguaoven played 53 of the defense’s 63 snaps, his greatest workload of the season.

Safety Eric Rowe, limited to just 41 snaps in the previous two games, played 44 snaps against the Falcons, often used in coverage against rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. The Dolphins had no answer for the No. 4 overall pick as he caught seven passes for 163 yards, including two key receptions to set up the game-winning field goal.

Rookie outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips, who started and played more than 50 snaps in each of the past two games, only played 15 snaps against Atlanta. He was outsnapped by Andrew Van Ginkel (48) and Brennan Scarlett (18).

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