Sept. 19 (UPI) — Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Tua Tagovailoa “learned something about himself,” and teammates now see what he is capable after he sparked a comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens with a career-best effort.
Tagovailoa completed 36 of 50 passes for a career-high 469 yards and six touchdowns in the 42-38 victory Sunday in Baltimore. The Dolphins trailed by 21 points at the start of the fourth quarter and outscored the Ravens 28-3 over the final 15 minutes.
McDaniel said earlier this year that Tagovailoa sometimes struggles with being too hard on himself in response to mistakes. He said the quarterback responded differently Sunday, after he threw his second interception of the day late in the second quarter.
“I think it was a moment that he will never forget,” McDaniel told reporters. “Hopefully he can use [the lesson] moving forward. We basically had to play perfect complimentary football to come back from a deficit like that, and this is a really good team.
“So, I couldn’t be happier with him, and his teammates know. His teammates learned a lot about him, and I think he learned something about himself.”
Tagovailoa orchestrated a 12-play, 75-yard drive to start the second half. He ended the possession with a 14-yard touchdown toss to tight end Mike Gesicki.
The Dolphins punted on their next drive, but scored touchdowns on each of their final four possessions.
Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver River Cracraft for a 2-yard score about three minutes into the fourth quarter.
He then tossed 48-yard and 60-yard touchdowns to Tyreek Hill on the next two respective drives. He threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for the go-ahead score with 14 seconds remaining.
“Mike [McDaniel] told us this in our team meeting, that this is going to be a great opportunity for us,” Tagovailoa said. “[He said] that if we do ever get down against these guys, we know that you’re not looking to put your head down.
“We’re always going to be in the game and just play one play at a time. And Mike is always going to say this, this is kind of like the mindset for our team, is that adversity is opportunity. And that’s how we played.”
Hill totaled 11 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the Dolphins. Waddle logged 11 catches for 171 yards and two scores.
“I don’t have to say too much,” Hill said. “All you’ve got to do is look at his game film. It’s Tua, and who he is and how consistent he is. You know that last drive we had, it really showed me who he is as a leader.”
Tagovailoa leads the NFL with 369.5 passing yards per game. His seven total touchdown passes are tied with Patrick Mahomes and Carson Wentz for the most in the league.
“Now, maybe Tua will listen to me,” McDaniel said. “What I mean by that is, I’ve said it to you guys before. It’s awesome to be critical of yourself. That’s good. He has a high standard for himself.
“But after the first game, I just wanted to see the guy enjoy playing football and understand that, yes, we want to make the perfect read and the perfect throw every time. But, who cares if you just get better at one thing.
“You’re going to be pretty good at the end of the season. Let’s just press forward.”
The Dolphins (2-0) will host the Buffalo Bills (1-0) at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.