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Dolphins Digest Week 4: Total Disaster

Jeff Dean. Shutterstock Images.

The 3-1 start has been good for the Miami Dolphins, but the season is on the brink because they put Tua Tagovailoa in danger and paid a heavy price for it. In all likelihood, Tua was concussed on Sunday and should not have come out for the second half. How he passed concussion protocol will be a controversial subject for the remainder of the season. The NFLPA has called for an investigation, and if an honest assessment is made, the Dolphins and their team doctors, along with whoever conducted the concussion review, will be in hot water. The NFL could try to sweep it under the rug, but it will be hard to deny something was wrong after Tua Tagovailoa's hands locked, indicating severe brain trauma. 

After their bruising and exhausting win over Buffalo on Sunday, the Dolphins faced a Hurricane and more than the usual assortment of injuries, especially the concussion to Tua Tagovailoa. They moved their practices to Cincinnati and had it leaked on the internet. The NFLPA questions the beaten and tired bodies, who had their preparation interrupted by Hurricane Ian, all while playing the reigning AFC Champions on the road. 

The Bengals got the ball first and drove down the field, going 75 yards in nine plays and taking nearly five minutes to score the game's first touchdown as Joe Mixon was pushed into the end zone on a five-yard run. The Dolphins responded with their own long drive but settled for a 23-yard field goal. After turning aside the Bengals, the Dolphins tried to go deep, but Tua's pass was short and picked off by Vonn Bell. 

The Bengals could not capitalize on the turnover, as the Dolphins stopped the Bengals on fourth and one at the Miami 24. The Dolphins would get the ball into Cincinnati territory, with Sanders connecting on a 48-yard field goal to make it a one-point game. After a three and out, Miami had a chance to take the lead as they got the ball into Bengals' territory when Tua Tagovailoa was sacked, hitting his head on the turf and leaving the game after a horrific-looking hand cramp. However, Jason Sanders had a 52-yard field goal attempt blocked. The Bengals would add to their lead when Tee Higgins burnt the Dolphins' defense, catching a 59-yard pass from Joe Burrow, as Miami was rattled after the injury to their quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater would lead a touchdown drive before the half as Chase Edmunds caught a nine-yard pass with nine seconds left. However, Jason Sanders missed the PAT as the Bengals led 14-12 at the half. 

The third quarter was a battle for field position as Miami kept the Bengals' offense in check. Late in the third quarter, Teddy Bridgewater connected with  Tyreek Hill on a 64-yard pass to the Cincinnati five. However, they would not get in the end zone, as Jason Sanders hit a 20-yard field goal to give the Dolphins a 15-14 lead. 

The Dolphins led at the start of the fourth quarter, but the game started to slip away as Xavien Howard was forced to exit with a groin injury. Already tired and worn down, the Howard injury would be the end of the Dolphins' hopes of winning the game. The Bengals would regain the lead with a 19-yard field goal by Evan McPherson, completing a nine-play drive deep into Miami territory. Following a three-and-out, the Bengals added to their lead with a  57-yard field goal by McPherson. 

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Trailing 20-15, the Dolphins drove into Cincinnati territory, but Teddy Bridgewater floated a pass for Mike Gesicki that was intercepted by Vonn Bell. The Bengals would go down the field and seal the win, as Hayden Hurst caught a two-yard touchdown pass to seal Cincinnati's 27-15 win. 

The Dolphins now go into Week 5 with questions surrounding Tua Tagovailoa. They have ten days before their next game in the Meadowlands against the Jets. With the severity of Tua's concussion being undeniable, it is likely that he will miss at least four weeks, as the Dolphins will need to be extra cautious.