If you did not think that the Miami Dolphins were for real and that Brian Flores is early odds on favorite for Coach of the Year, Sunday showed that something special is clearly going on with this Dolphins team. With five assistant coaches in COVID protocol injuries to the running back and receiving corps, the Dolphins showed a next man mentality in a 34-31 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Before the game, the Dolphins announced that defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander, quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, outside linebackers coach Austin Clark, defensive line coach Marion Hobby, and quality control coach Kolby Smith would not be the game due to COVID-19 protocols. This forced displaced starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick into action as a de facto quarterback coach for Tua Tagovailoa. He may need to get used to a role, as he will likely soon be a coach as his career comes to an end.
The Dolphins were down to their third-string running back as Myles Gaskin is out at least three weeks after being placed on Injured Reserve with an ankle sprain. Matt Breida was also inactive for the game. Salvon Ahmed ran for 38 yards on seven carries, a number nearly matched by Tagovailoa, who ran for 35 yards. Tua's most exciting play was a 17-yard run for a first down, eluding several tackles. His big run, though, was a simple one-yard sneak at the end of the game that clinched victory.
The Arizona Cardinals are running the blueprint the Dolphins can use being one-year ahead as they challenge the Seahawks for the NFC West. The Cardinals could have taken over first place with a win, as the Seahawks drop to 6-2 with a loss in Buffalo on Sunday. Kyler Murray, the 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year, is a mobile quarterback that Tagovailoa can model his game after. The Dolphins had trouble containing Murray passed for 283 yards with three touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown and ran for 107 yards. However, Kyler Murray also had a fumble on a hit by Emmanuel Ogbh Shaq Lawson scooped up the ball for the game's first score.
While Kyler Murray had the flashier stats, Tua Tagovailoa did enough and did it without making the big mistakes as Miami had no turnovers. In his second start, Tagovailoa completed 20 of 28 passes for 248 yards, with two touchdowns. The first of which was caught by Preston Williams. Williams had four catches for 60 yards before exiting with a foot injury suffered during the celebration. Tua's second touchdown, which tied the game in the fourth quarter, was caught by Mack Hollins, making his first catch of the season.
After Miami tied the game, their defense made a critical stand at the 40 stopping the Cardinals on fourth down, and one as Elandon Roberts and Zach Sieler stacked up Chase Edmonds. The Dolphins would get the ball and set up Jason Sanders for a 50-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner. Sanders also had a 56-yard field goal at the end of the first half and has made his last 20 field goal attempts. The same cannot be said for Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez, who came up short on a 49-yard attempt in the game's final moments.