MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Odds are very high that Sunday was the statistical high-water mark of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s career.
Only 10 quarterbacks have thrown for 450 or more yards and six or more touchdowns in a game in their careers — and of the previous nine, seven are either in the Hall of Fame or will be eventually.
So Tagovailoa is in the rarest of companies. But will his monster day against the Baltimore Ravens be a springboard to greatness or a footnote in NFL history?
TBD. But there’s reason to believe that Tagovailoa will follow up his record day with another strong performance Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Tua Tagovailoa’s outlook vs. Buffalo Bills
The NFL on Wednesday named Tagovailoa the AFC offensive player of the week after his six-touchdown, 469-yard performance Sunday against the Ravens.
Those stats were both far and away the best he’s posted in a game in his three-year career. It was just the fourth time he’s thrown for even 300 yards and just the second time he’s had more than two touchdowns in his career.
So as much as Tuamania has swept these parts in recent days, it would be wise to keep expectations for Week 4 in check.
But there’s more than one way to measure success. Coaches love when players stack good performances on good (or, in Tagovailoa’s case, all-time great) ones. And Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel is no different.
“It’s using that day in a beneficial manner moving forward,” McDaniel said Wednesday. “So what that means to me, is I mean, situations, numbers, all those things, I’m not talking about statistically — his rating or any of that stuff. It’s understanding, using that game for confidence. Understanding how he got there.
“That was a ton of prep on the game week, and harnessing that moment” is key, McDaniel continued. “The second pick he threw was the worst that he’s thrown in practice or games for me. And what he did after that, that’s something to hold on to.
“So I think stacking you know, it’s impossible,” McDaniel added. “People are too good. Teams are too good. Coaches are too good. You’re just not going to get better stats, week-in, week-out. It’s bigger than that. It’s how he approaches his position. And whether or not you know, if he feels himself pressing like he did when he threw that second pick, how fast can you get out of that yourself and utilize that whole experience for confidence moving forward.”
Can Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa do it again?
There are certainly reasons for Tua to be confident. He’s playing in the best system with the best weapons of his career.
And if that wasn’t enough, a quick look at history should reinforce it.
Of the nine previous members of the 450-6 club, eight were established starters (Matt Flynn is the only fluky member of the list; he wouldn’t start a game for nearly another two years after torching the Lions in the 2012 regular season finale.)
Those eight starters combined to throw 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions in their next start, with an aggregate passer rating of 96.5.
And if you narrow the focus even more, the numbers look even better for Tua. The last four to do it — Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Peyton Manning — combined to complete 106 of 157 passes for 1,329 yards with 15 touchdowns and just one interception in their next game.
Can Tua get off the schneid vs. Buffalo Bills?
Granted, some of the past need not be repeated. No team has had Tua’s number like the Bills. He’s never beaten them in three meetings, and his career passer rating against Buffalo (59.8) is the lowest of any team he has faced.
They’ve not only beaten Tagovailoa but bruised him too. Monday marked the one-year anniversary of when A.J. Epenesa broke Tua’s ribs in a 35-0 Bills road victory.
But that, as we mentioned, was with inferior talent and an inferior play-caller. We’ve never seen Tua play this team with this level of support.
“We understand that they’re a really good team,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “That’s no secret. Everyone knows they’re a really good team…We’ll give our best. They’ll get ours.”