Despite Fitzmagic Show, Brian Flores Says it’s Tua Time in Week 17

Tua Tagovailoa Dolphins Backdrop

  • The Miami Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills 26-25 on Saturday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick delivered his Fitzmagic in the 4th quarter, leading the Dolphins to three scores in the final stanza.
  • Despite Fitzpatrick’s heroics, head coach Brian Flores says that Tua Tagovailoa will start for the team next week.

With their playoff aspirations on the line on Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins needed some magic to keep their season going. Trailing by a field goal in the fourth quarter of their Week 16 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Dolphins got a huge lift from Ryan Fitzpatrick to come from behind and beat the Raiders 26-25.

Known for his late-game heroics, Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to not one, not two, but three scoring drives in a frenetic fourth quarter where the teams traded big scores down the stretch. In the end, it was Fitzpatrick who had the last say, as his “no-look” pass set-up the game-winning field goal with only one second left in the game. Fitzmagic, as they call it.

Fitzmagic

With 9:47 left in the 4th quarter of the game and the Dolphins trailing by three points, Coach Brian Flores pulled out Tua Tagovailoa and put veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick on the field again.This time around, Fitzmagic struck and the Dolphins carved out a thrilling come-from-behind 26-25 win over the Raiders.

Fitzpatrick threw a total of 182 passing yards in the 4th quarter against Las Vegas. That’s tied for the most yards he’s ever thrown in a quarter during his 20-year NFL career. Fitz was 5-6 for 154 yards with 1 touchdown when throwing for more than five yards downfield, all in the fourth period. He led three consecutive scoring drives, including a field goal with one second left and the Dolphins trailing 25-23.

The key play of the night was a 34-yard completion to Mack Hollins which Fitzpatrick pulled off despite Raiders defensive lineman Arden Key holding on to his facemask. The infraction resulted in a 15-yard penalty which moved the Dolphins closer to field goal range at the Raiders’ 26. That set up Jason Sanders’ game-winning 44-yard field goal with one second left in the game.

Miami became the second team in the last 20 years to drive for the winning score while starting from their own 25-yard line with 30 or less seconds left in the game. The Green Bay Packers did it against the Detroit Lions five years ago with a desperation pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rogers.

Still Tua Time

The win not only eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention it also put the Dolphins in a position to clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Buffalo Bills next week. BetOnline currently lists Miami as an early +5 point underdogs against Buffalo at -120 with the Bills coming back at even money at -5.

When Miami head coach Brian Flores was asked which quarterback will start in that all-important game, he did not hesitate to say Tua’s name. According to Flores, he brought in Fitzpatrick to give the team a spark on Saturday night but Tagovailoa will remain as the team’s starter despite his inability to stretch the field against the Raiders.

Tagovailoa completed 17 of 22 passes but without his top targets, he was ineffective with only 94 passing yards. The Miami rookie threw for just 4.3 yards per attempt and didn’t complete a pass longer than 12 yards. The Rookie QB even held on to the ball too long and his indecisiveness allowed the Raiders defense to force a punt in Tua’s last three drives, sacking the 5th pick of the 2020 NFL draft in each of those three drives.

Saturday was the second time in six weeks where Flores benched Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter of a game. In week 11 with the Dolphins trailing 20-10 against the Denver Broncos, Flores took out Tua in favor of Fitzpatrick and the veteran QB quickly led Miami to a field goal to cut the deficit. But rally came up short. Let’s just hope that if he pulls Tua out next week, if it ever comes to that, it’s gonna Fitzmagic all over again.

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