DENVER – The pain of pulling out in the last quarter of Miami’s first loss in seven weeks may be agonizing for some time, but the seat of Tu Taguviloa is not going to last.
“No, no changes,” coach Brian Flores insisted after the Dolphins lost 20-13 in Denver on Sunday which was closed when Justin Simmons’ safety intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick’s throw at Devanti Parker in the finish area just over a minute earlier.
Taguvaliwa staggered off the field after his sixth dismissal early in the fourth quarter and appeared to limp on the sidelines, but Flores said the problem was not the young midfielder’s health.
Flores pulled Tagoviloa after he watched his left-wing striker struggle throughout the match against a relentless pass rush that contained six bags and a stingy secondary lonely from 83 yards in an 11 of 20 pass.
They pressured us. They did a good job on the back end in terms of the cover. After Dolphin fell 6-4 with their first loss since October 4 against Seattle, Flores said, “We had a problem going forward. We had to try to do something to create momentum. That’s why we made the change, but he’s healthy.”
Dolphins also insist there’s no quarterback hookup in South Beach.
“No contention,” said Fitzpatrick after completing 12 of 18 passes over 117 yards. “This is his team. He will continue to lead the team, and we must all go in the right direction.”
The Dolphins will visit the New York Jets without a win (0-10) next week.
Fitzpatrick said he spoke with Tagoviloa “on the sidelines and in the dressing room. He’ll put his head down and keep working hard and trying to be a better midfielder. We have a great opportunity here as a team. Tua has done a good job. It’s about putting him behind you and moving on to the next stage.”
Taguvelua, who has been trying to become QB’s second rookie player in the past 40 years to win his first four appearances (Ben Rothlisberger being the other), said he understood the move when Flores hit him.
“My thoughts were all that would be best for the team,” said Taguvilwa. “When I was inside, we couldn’t follow things up. The coach felt it was the best decision to hire Fitz to try to give us a spark. If we were going to win with Fitz there, the dressing room would be a lot different. Everyone would be happier. It’s just bad to lose.”
“For me it was a wonderful learning experience,” he added. “It felt like I had been holding the ball for a very long time.”
Flores said he had no worries that the Tagovyllua seat would harm his psyche.
“He’s a self-confident kid.” He’s dealt with a lot of adversity, “said Flores.” He’ll be fine. ”
The Broncos (4-6) did something that the Rams, Cardinals, and Chargers could not do against the Tagophilo. Denver kept the dolphins’ impressive defense in trouble, preventing their amazing special teams from catching the Taguviloa with early advances.
Instead, Broncos’ team bounced off Drew Lock’s 11th interception on their inaugural run that led to a fast 7-0 Miami lead to a 13-10 lead in the locker room.
Melvin Gordon’s second march to descend extended to 20-10 in the third quarter, when Fitzpatrick replaced Tagophiloa.
Gordon ran 15 times 84 yards and Philip Lindsay ran 82 yards on 16 gigs.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio said that the midfielders’ best friends play a good ground game and a good defense, and while Luke had both, Taguvalho had neither of them on that day.
Five of his eight runs were three rounds, including four of his first five chains confined to about 22 yards from the landing after the only takeaway in Miami, which is Xavien Howard’s sixth interception of the season.
The dolphins outperformed 189 yards to 56 yards on the ground, and Denver had six bags while not allowing anything.
“It was a combination of protection and maybe kept it for a very long time and it didn’t open men,” said Flores. “We weren’t actively moving the ball. I felt we needed to give ourselves a spark.”
And perhaps in the process, he lit a fire underneath the taguvailua which will bear fruit as dolphins chase their first pier since 2016.