Happy Holidays, Dolphins fans. We hope you enjoyed the present the Dolphins got everyone this past weekend by beating the Dallas Cowboys 22-20. 

The Dolphins have dealt with the narrative that they couldn’t beat good football teams all season. While it was probably a little overblown, a kernel of truth was nestled inside. Well, that narrative holds no truth now. 

Sunday’s game was odd as the Dolphins relied most on their defense and field goal kicker, Jason Sanders, not Tua Tagovailoa. However, Tagovailoa had a nice day against the Cowboys. Miami’s drives just tended to stall on Dallas’ side of the field. 

Let’s dive into the All-22 and see what it says about Tagovailoa’s performance. Is it the signature moment we’ve been looking for all season? 


Tua All-22 vs. Cowboys

Coming Out Firing

Tagovailoa came out shooting his shot this past weekend. His first pass attempt of the game was this vertical shot to Tyreek Hill down the left sideline. 

This throw was another in a long series of “Who’s fault is this throw?” We would argue it’s nobody’s fault. For starters, this is an excellent throw by Tagovailoa, with Micah Parsons bearing down on him. 

The timing, touch, and distance are perfect. As for Hill, it’s slightly over his shoulder, making this a much harder adjustment than many have given him credit for. Could Hill have caught it? Sure. 

Sometimes, plays just don’t work out. There was high difficulty on both sides of the equation, and each player gave the play a shot at working. On the first throw of the game, it’s really not worth getting worked up about. 

Especially when you consider this throw was literally Tagovailoa’s next attempt. It takes everything great about the last throw but removes the adjustment for the receiver. 

Tagovailoa let this ball go from about halfway into the endzone, and it landed in-stride at the Dolphins’ 46. It’s roughly 50 yards and perfectly placed over Stephone Gilmore and into Waddle’s lap. 

How did Waddle get 1-on-1 coverage? Watch the Cowboys’ safeties after the snap. The safety to Waddle’s side gets immediate eyes in the middle of the field, turning his back to Waddle. Teams do this against Miami all the time because the team loves in-breaking routes. 

The other safety has his eyes on Hill, as this ends up being man coverage across the board. That leaves Waddle 1-on-1 with Gilmore, who isn’t quite as fast as he used to be. 

If you follow this column, you know how much we’ve discussed Tagovailoa’s improved vertical placement this season. It’s a tendency breaker in the Dolphins’ offense, forcing defenses not to sit on the in-breakers all game. 

The more Tagovailoa hits these throws in stride, the more potent the rest of the offense will become. 

Tua On The Move

Anytime Tagovailoa makes a play out structure, it’s worth discussing. It’s pretty rare for him to do it, and he’s not exactly the best when throwing on the move. However, we’ve seen him make a few plays this season. 

This play was early in the game, as Tagovailoa made a nice throw out to his left to Cedrick Wilson. The Cowboys play Cover-1 on this snap (single-high safety, man coverage everywhere), and Wilson runs the in-breaker from the slot. 

Tagovailoa does an excellent job of feeling the interior pressure early. Liam Eichenberg was getting driven directly into Tagaovailoa’s lap, pretty much right off the snap. 

There’s no panic from Tagovailoa. He calmly gets outside the pocket and waits for Wilson to come to him before delivering a strike for a first down. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this throw, but Tagovailoa’s ability to create will be more critical as Miami plays better teams. 

This is at least a step in the right direction. 

Unheralded Throw

This throw didn’t get much coverage, but we think it deserves more love. The throw itself is nothing special. Hill is practically wide open, but Tagovailoa’s anticipation in the face of pressure made this an easy completion. 

The situation is third and 8. The Dolphins need a conversion to run more time off the clock. The Cowboys get quick pressure (a common theme in this one), but Tagovailoa gets the ball out so quickly it doesn’t matter. 

We try to stay away from grand statements in these columns. While many will point to Tagovailoa’s deep ball as something only a few quarterbacks could do, we’d argue this is the play to make that claim. 

Not many other quarterbacks get the ball out faster than Tagovailoa. And not many other quarterbacks throw with this level of accuracy when sped up this much. This is what makes Tagovailoa more than McDaniel’s scheme. He does things to raise the level of the offense. 

Weird Misses

Tagovailoa played well on Sunday, but he wasn’t perfect. This throw is a good example of a few uncharacteristic misses Tagovailoa had on Sunday. 

Many came on out-breaking routes toward the sideline (like his miss to De’Von Achane on a third down). The best we can tell is that Tagovailoa was just slightly off with his accuracy. His mechanics look fine, and he didn’t face pressure each time. 

We wouldn’t look too far into those misses in the bug picture. However, there’s no doubt some of them held Miami’s offense back from putting the Cowboys away sooner. 


Trying to draw sweeping conclusions from Sunday’s game is difficult. We’ve asked Tagovailoa to beat a “good” team all season, and he did. He drove Miami down the field and put them in field goal range to clinch a playoff spot. 

However, when you watch the game, there wasn’t much difficulty in doing that. Dallas played soft and basically gave Miami field goal range. 

That’s what makes evaluating QB play so challenging sometimes. How do you balance results with process? Tagovailoa has been on the wrong end of the “results” side all season — in big games, that is — so he absolutely deserves credit for leading that drive for the win. 

We’ve preached all season that results matter for a QB heading toward the end of his rookie contract. So yeah, Tagovailoa got over the hump against the Cowboys. He checked another important box. 

With that said, it’s equally important to acknowledge that Tagovailoa wasn’t the most significant reason Miami won on Sunday. Its defense played outstanding against one of the NFL’s best offenses, and Jason Sanders remembered he’s allowed to make kicks further than 50 yards. 

Both things can be true. Tagovailoa can add a much-needed clutch win to his resume and not be the primary reason Miami won. Tagovailoa has played well enough to get a few of these wins this season, so it’s nice to see one finally go his way. 

Our advice is to watch how much you prop up the win. Miami’s offense sputtered quite a bit on Sunday, and Tagovailoa wasn’t his usual self in some spots. 

Tagovailoa passed a major test this week, but the NFL is cruel. He’s getting an even tougher one next week against the Ravens.