Once again, Dolphins coach Brian Flores benched Tua Tagovailoa for Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of a winnable game. This time, Miami won.
With 9:47 left in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s bout against the Las Vegas Raiders, FitzMagic trotted onto the field, his team trailing by three. He walked off the field having led the Dolphins to a 26-25 win.
Doing his best Lamar Jackson impersonation, Fitzpatrick told reporters that he had to pee during a game for the first time in his 17-year career, so he ran up the tunnel. When he returned, Flores told the QB he was going in the game.
Fitzpatrick led three consecutive scoring drives, including a field goal drive in the final minute with Miami trialing 25-23. The key play was a 34-yard completion to Mack Hollins, which the veteran QB pulled of while his helmet was being pulled back. The accompanying unnecessary roughness call put the Dolphins at the Raiders’ 26-yard-line, setting up a 44-yard field goal for Jason Sanders with one second remaining.
The Dolphins (10-5) eliminated the Raiders (7-8) from playoff contention and can clinch a playoff berth themselves with a win next week over the Bills. Flores said soon after Fitzpatrick’s heroics Saturday that while he made the switch to give his team a spark, Tagovailoa will remain the starter.
The rookie was ineffective all night, completing 17 of 22 passes for just 94 yards with a TD. Never stretching the field, Tua threw for just 4.3 yards per attempt and didn’t complete a ball beyond 12 air-yards. The rookie QB often held the ball too long, taking three sacks.
Playing without his top receiving targets, Tua led five three-and-outs in eight drives, including three straight 3-and-outs before getting yanked.
With the same weapons at his disposal, Fitzpatrick immediately marched the Dolphins down the field. The offense opened up, with FitzMagic stretching the field with deep tosses to Mike Gesicki down to the 4-yard-line. The drive, however, stalled, leading to the game-tying FG. He then drove the offense down the field for a go-ahead touchdown later in a frantic final quarter.
“It wasn’t a shock tonight to see what happened,” Tagovailoa said afterward. “They call him FitzMagic for a reason.”
It’s the second time in six weeks Flores has benched Tua in the fourth quarter. In Week 11, Fitzpatrick took over trailing 20-10 against the Denver Broncos. The veteran, again, immediately led Miami on an FG drive to cut into the deficit. Against Denver, Miami came up short.
This time around, FitzMagic pulled out a wild win, keeping the Dolphins in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
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