Tua Tagovailoa entered the conference room on the premises of the Miami Dolphins team for his usual Wednesday post-workout media session wearing a shirt he wore underneath padding and a T-shirt that reads “Wish it was hotter.”
Coming straight from the training field, sweating, it was mantra trainer Mike McDaniel who instilled in his team, which worked in the heat and humidity of South Florida through off-season training and from training camp in late July.
“It’s a sentence Mike likes to say, more like psychology,” said the quarterback Dolphins. “It gets really hot in here, so just say it, believe it.”
Later a stunning 42-38 victory from last Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens, it’s hard to call an NFL quarterback hotter than Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa’s historic passing performance in Baltimore earned him the AFC Attacking Player of the Week award, as announced Wednesday morning. Later on Wednesday, it was revealed that he was chosen by fans for the FedEx Air Player of the Week NFL.
“It’s amazing,” said McDaniel, who was impressed with the way Tagovailoa dealt with outside noise around him. “This is a team award for me, but it is an award that it deserves immensely.”
Tagovailoa said, “It was fun. This is my first one, but I have said it in many interviews: Individual success is only achieved as part of team success. If we had never won this match, if the defense had never done what it did, if our offensive had not come out and put points on the board, none of this would have been possible.
Tagovailoa threw 469 yards and six touchdowns to nullify the loss of three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. His distances and touchdowns on Sunday in Baltimore were easily record-breaking in his career. Six touchdowns equaled Bob Griese and Dan Marino’s Hall of Famers with the franchise record. 469 yards was the fourth best in Dolphin history, beaten three times by Marino.
Four of the Tagovailoa touchdowns took place in the fourth quarter as Miami, returning from 21 points, made its biggest comeback on the highway in franchise history. According to ESPN Stats & Info, for the first time in 12 years, any NFL team returned from 21st position in the fourth quarter.
Tagovailoa’s fertile Sunday saw him be among the leaders of the NFL for two weeks. He is first in passing yards (739), tied first in touchdowns (seven), third in trying yards (8.9) and completed (59), and fourth in quarterback (116.5).
Tagovailoa’s two top recipients, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, gathered 11 receptions and two touchdowns. Hill went for 190 receiving yards and Waddle 171 as Tagovailoa finished 36 out of 50.
“I feel comfortable handing the ball to our quarterback,” he said of steps he is proud of at the start of Year 3. “I just put the ball in the hands of our quarterbacks and let them go to work.”
Now, Tagovailoa will continue to make progress after a career day. McDaniel would like Tagovailoi’s rebound from two first-half steals on Sunday to become a microcosm.
“The second choice he made was the worst he made in training or games for me. And what he did after that is something to hold on to, ”said McDaniel. “He’s using the day in a good way.”
After such a dramatic finish on the road, it doesn’t get any easier. Dolphins host rival AFC East and favorite Super Bowl Buffalo Bills.
“We understand this is a really good team,” said Tagovailoa. “They are tough on defense. They are offensively explosive.
He emphatically called the Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen “the beast.” Despite dealing with a number of injuries, especially in high schoolThe Bills are one of the strongest defenders in the league and have crushed their first two opponents, the Los Angeles Rams and the Tennessee Titans, with a total of 55 points.
“I wouldn’t say we have a measure of how good these guys are,” Tagovailoa said. “For us, we just look at the game as we’ve played for the last two weeks. They’ll get what we can and we’ll get them.
Tagovailoa is the first Dolphins player to win the offensive AFC Weekly Award since quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick received the award in Week 16 of the 2019 season.
Last year, Dolphins had twice weekly award winners. Corner Xavien Howard became AFC’s defensive player of the week after his return from a touchdown was a key game in the Raven Upset Week 10. Three weeks later, Michael Palardy brought home an award for the conference specials’ teams for the week for winning the match against the New York Giants.
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