In what is already a tale of two seasons, the Miami Dolphins have lost three straight games heading into a Sunday Night Football matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just a month ago, the Dolphins were riding high at 3-0, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was playing like an MVP candidate.
The season’s trajectory took a hit in Week 3, and despite a gritty win against the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa was knocked from the game in the first half in what the football world initially thought was a concussion.
Tagovailoa returned from what was clarified as a back/ankle injury instead of a concussion. Then, days later, on a Thursday Night Football game, a sack on Miami’s quarterback against the Cincinnati Bengals left him in a horrifying position on national television.
The Dolphins ended up losing the game, but more importantly, Tagovailoa was released from a Cincinnati trauma center following the injury and did end up traveling back to Miami with the team.
With Tagovailoa sidelined for the last two games, the Dolphins are essentially 0-3 without their third-year quarterback, who’s a first-year captain in 2022. Veteran backup Teddy Bridgewater and rookie Skylar Thompson each got a start in the last two weeks, and each had to relieve the other in those games due to injury.
Bridgewater started against the New York Jets in Week 5, but in a questionable situation, was ruled out of the game following a league spotter’s ruling that he “stumbled” following a knockdown. Ironically, the Tagovailoa situation ten days earlier placed this new ruling in effect, hurting the Dolphins.
Last Sunday, Bridgewater had limited practice time since in concussion protocol, and Thompson got the start against the Minnesota Vikings before the rookie injured his thumb. The veteran went in and played the majority of the game on way to a 16-24 loss.
If a return of Tagovailoa isn’t drama enough for the home Miami crowd in the first Sunday Night game in five seasons for the Dolphins, ex-head coach Brian Flores returns.
Flores is the Steelers’ senior defensive assistant/linebackers coach, and he joins another former Dolphin coming back to Miami in 2018 first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the Dolphins will also be honoring the 1972 undefeated team for their 50th anniversary. The legends will be out in full force Sunday Night, as Tua returns, Flores and Fitzpatrick are back and perfection is honored.
The Dolphins have won four of their last five prime-time games from 2020. If they can beat the Steelers on Sunday night, that would be Miami’s first Sunday Night Football win since Dec. 26, 2004, against the Cleveland Browns.
Tagovailoa will enter the Steelers game with a passer rating of 109.9, which leads the NFL. He’s ahead of Josh Allen (109.1), Geno Smith (108.1), Patrick Mahomes (106.1) and Jalen Hurts (98.4).
Tagovailoa is also first in the NFL in yards per attempt (9.0) and third in completion percentage (69.6%).
Since 2017, Tagovailoa has the third-highest winning percentage among quarterbacks with at least 25 career starts (16-9 .640). Lamar Jackson is first (21-4 .840) and Patrick Mahomes is second (18-7 .720).
Seldom used so far this season, Gesicki had the game many have been waiting for, despite the loss, on Sunday. He had season-highs in receptions (six) as well as receiving yards (69) and two receiving touchdowns against the Vikings.
It was the third multi-touchdown game of his career, which is the most in franchise history among tight ends. He’s just 31 receiving yards away from passing Bruce Hardy and moving into second place on the Dolphins’ all-time tight end list. Randy McMichael is number one (3,096), and Gesicki is 671 yards away from the top.
Tyreek Hill is having a prolific start to the season and his overall career with the Dolphins. He’s currently leading the NFL in receptions (50) as well as receiving yards (701).
In his six games with Miami, Hill has finished three of them with at least 10 receptions and 150 receiving yards. This is the first time in NFL history a player has done that in his team’s first six games.
The Dolphins’ previous high through the first six games of a season was Mark Duper’s 669 in 1984.
Hill’s 701 receiving yards is already more than any Dolphin had in 2018 when Danny Amendola led the team with 575 on the season.
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