Tagovailoa leaves early with rib injury as Dolphins shut out at home by Bills, 35-0

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Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left early in the first quarter with a rib injury and the Dolphins were blown out, 35-0, by the Buffalo Bills in their home opener on Sunday, losing their sixth consecutive game to their divisional rival.

Miami was shut out for the first time since Sept. 15, 2019, a 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots.

Miami has been outscored by Buffalo, 91-26, in the teams’ last two matchups, which includes the 56-26 Bills’ blowout win in Week 17 last season.

On the offense’s second drive, Tagovailoa took a crushing hit from defensive end A.J. Epenesa on an incomplete fourth-down pass attempt. Tagovailoa had trouble walking upright and lay on the ground at Hard Rock Stadium for multiple minutes before eventually making his way to the team’s bench. Shortly afterward, Tagovailoa was carted back to the locker room and listed as questionable to return. He was eventually downgraded to out and never returned to the game.

The Dolphins defense extended its streak of forcing turnovers to 24 games with a pair of first-half takeaways but wasn’t able to compensate for an offense that couldn’t finish drives.

Miami committed nine penalties, tied for the most in the Brian Flores era; the Dolphins also committed nine in their 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Flores’ first game as head coach.

The Dolphins offense remained steady with Jacoby Brissett, who completed 24-of-40 passes for 169 yards and an interception, but the game-ending hit to Tagovailoa was emblematic of issues for the offensive line all afternoon. Buffalo sacked Miami quarterbacks six times and registered 12 hits.

Miami also struggled in situational opportunities. Five of the Dolphins’ first-half drives ended past midfield and four finished within the Bills’ 40, but Miami got no points to show for it.

Tagovailoa, who finished 1-for-4 with 13 yards, was sacked twice on the Dolphins’ opening possession, forcing a three-and-out. The Bills scored two plays later on a 46-yard run by Devin Singletary to take an early 7-0 lead.

On the following possession, the Dolphins went for it on fourth-and-2 from the Buffalo 48 but Tagovailoa’s pass was incomplete, and he left the game after absorbing the hit from Epenesa, who came off the right side of the defensive line untouched.

The Bills scored on the following possession, a 5-yard, across-the-body touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, to push the lead to 14-0.

A forced fumble by linebacker Jerome Baker and subsequent recovery by rookie safety Jevon Holland gave the Dolphins their best starting field position of the game at Buffalo 42 late in the first quarter. However, the drive quickly ended after Brissett was intercepted by cornerback Levi Wallace.

On the ensuing possession, Miami got within the Buffalo 11, but wide receiver Jakeem Grant fumbled on a third-down catch, which the Bills recovered at their 11.

Cornerback Xavien Howard flipped the field back to the Dolphins with a diving interception at the Buffalo 24 but a fourth-and-2 run at the 16-yard line by Malcom Brown was stopped short, leaving Miami again with a fruitless drive.

Despite the injury to Tagovailoa and a litany of mistakes, the Dolphins went into halftime down just 14-0.

Buffalo widened the gap in the second half, scoring on three of their four possessions after halftime.

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