Tua and the Dolphins outlast the Lions, improve to 5-3

A master-class performance by Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was just enough for Miami to escape Detroit with a 31-27 win.

With Sunday’s loss, the Lions fell to 1-6. However the first-half performance by Jared Goff and Detroit’s offense would have you think they were one of the top teams in the league.

Luckily, Mike McDaniel had the offense playing far better than it did in the 16-point performance last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tagovailoa had one of his best games of the season, finishing a near-perfect 29 of 36 on pass attempts with 382 yards and three touchdowns.

The Lions came out the gate firing, jumping to a quick 14-0 lead. However, you must give credit to McDaniel and the rest of the coaching staff because Miami’s defense settled down after a chaotic first half, not allowing a single point in the game’s final two quarters.

Sunday’s win is now the second in a row for the Dolphins, who remain undefeated in games that Tagovailoa has finished.

Here are some things we learned watching Miami’s gutsy win on the road:

Tua Tagovailoa should be a league MVP candidate

Tagovailoa’s third season in the NFL has been everything that Dolphins fans could have hoped for from the former fifth-overall pick. The one-time Alabama star was constantly ridiculed over his first two seasons and written off by media, analysts and fans. 

Despite all the criticism, Tagovailoa has finally started his career; his play this season has silenced the haters and turned his non-believers into fans. 

At this point, it is evident that Tagovailoa’s presence is enough to push the team to its highest level. The Dolphins’ 3-0 start to the season was made possible by Tagovailoa’s stellar play. It is no coincidence that once the Hawaiian quarterback went down with injury, Miami would go on to lose three straight.

If you are looking at the pure definition of the MVP award, Tagovailoa fits the criteria. He is the Dolphins’ most valuable player, and if Miami can continue to win games, there is no reason Tagovailoa should not be in the running to win the award.

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle could go down as the Dolphins’ best wide receiver tandem of all time

Miami shocked the league when they traded for Tyreek Hill over the summer. The 28-year-old superstar was one of the top receivers in the league playing with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but many wondered how he would look with Tagovailoa as his quarterback. With a league-leading 961 receiving yards in just eight games, you can say he is doing just fine. 

Jaylen Waddle’s progression in his second season has been just as important for the Dolphins’ success. The second-year man impressed many as a rookie finishing his first season with 104 receptions for 1,015 yards. He is already on track to blow this total out of the water and at only 23 years old, there is no reason why Waddle can’t go down as one of the best receivers of all time. 

The two receivers complement each other well and are arguably the best duo in the league in their first season as teammates. Hill finished Sunday’s game with 12 receptions for 188 yards while Waddle had eight receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns. 

While there is still almost half the season left to play, it is possible that Hill and Waddle go down as the best receiver duo the Dolphins have ever had.

Miami’s defense can flip the switch when its most needed

For the second straight week, the Dolphin defense has come up big when it needed to most. After struggling in the first half, Miami shut out the Lions’ offense completely in the final 30 minutes.

Detroit was impressive to start the game. Jared Goff finished the game with a solid 321 passing yards and a touchdown. Running back Jamaal Williams also menaced Miami’s defense with two touchdowns on only ten carries and 53 yards.

Despite some good performances, Jevon Holland and the rest of the defensive unit buckled down and forced two punts and a clutch fourth-down stop in Detroit’s three second-half possessions.

While it was concerning to see Miami’s slow start after such a good performance last week, the fact they got stops when they needed it most was most critical. 

The Dolphins look to extend their win streak to three games when they travel to Illinois to take on Chicago next Sunday. Justin Field and the Bears have struggled this season losing their last game 49-29 to the Dallas Cowboys and falling to 3-5. The game will be played at 1 p.m. and broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.

Anthony Blanco is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism with hopes of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Anthony is passionate about covering sports and hopes to one day make his passion his profession.