Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Says He ‘Needed’ to Get Physical Against Steelers

by Suzanne Halliburton
Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa missed three weeks of play recovering from a concussion. And in his very first game back, the Miami Dolphins quarterback admitted he sought out some defensive contact.

Although millions of NFL fans sucked in their breath Sunday night when a lineman or linebacker got too close to Tua, the QB didn’t change his style of play. Besides throwing for 261 yards, he ran for times for 15. And his Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-10. Coincidentally, Kenny Pickett, who started at QB for the Steelers, had just been cleared to play after being in concussion protocol.

In his post-game press conference, Miami coach Mike McDaniel recalled a brief conversation he had with his quarterback.

“He immediately after the first time (he ran) ‘Coach, I’m sorry. I needed that,’ ” McDaniel said. “I was like, ‘all right.’ “

In this clip, a Miami reporter compared Tua to Dolphin icon Larry Csonka. That’s high praise, but probably not who a QB needs to emulate.

Coach Told Tua Tagovailoa to Slide. He Didn’t All the Time

It’s not uncommon for players coming back from injury to look to shake off the rust. If that means an extra thump or two on the shoulder pads, so be it. But Tua Tagovailoa isn’t a common NFL player. He’s one of the NFL’s biggest names who suffered a scary injury during primetime. After a hit by a Cincinnati Bengal, Sept. 29, Tua’s injury started a massive discussion about NFL players and head injuries. Meanwhile, the NFLPA asked for the termination of the independent neurologist who cleared Tua the first time. Then the NFL strengthened its concussion protocols.

This was all because of the head injury Tua Tagovailoa suffered against the Bengals and a head/back injury he incurred four days before against Buffalo. McDaniel said his quarterback hasn’t been through a full speed practice since before that game against the Bills.

McDaniel said he did worry the first time Tua tried to gain a first down — with his legs, not left arm.

“He’s got that component to his game where he’s a competitor and he’s trying to get a first down for his team,” McDaniel told reporters. “I’m never going to totally encourage that, at all. I’m probably going to advise him to slide every time.”

Here’s another play where Tua forgot to slide. Hello Tre Norwood.

Tua Tagovailoa promised he wasn’t trying to be a superhero. But he didn’t mind lowering his shoulder as he collided with Steeler linebacker Devin Bush in the first quarter. Or Norwood later in the game.

”I can see the first down,” Tagovailoa told reporters. ”To me, they were close calls. OK, maybe, if I do just put my shoulder down, maybe I can get forward progress. That was all it was. I wasn’t trying to be Superman or a superhero out there.”

Tua ran four times for 15 yards.