The actual football took on secondary importance for much of Thursday's game after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field following a scary injury, but the Miami Dolphins came up short in a 27-15 road loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
What was seen as a potential AFC preview between the conference's only remaining undefeated team in the Dolphins and the reigning Super Bowl representatives in the Bengals took on a somber tone with the Tagovailoa injury that he suffered when his head hit the turf on a sack by Josh Tupou.
The Dolphins announced he was hospitalized but was conscious with movement in his extremities, and the Amazon Prime broadcast said the expectation is he will be discharged from the hospital Thursday and fly back with his teammates.
That left backup Teddy Bridgewater to come into the game in an unexpected and sudden matter, and he responded by leading a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a touchdown on a shovel pass to Chase Edmonds right before halftime to give the visitors some much-needed momentum.
He also impressed with a beautiful deep ball to Tyreek Hill to set up a field goal in the third quarter to take the lead and earned praise for stepping into a difficult situation and still performing:
Chase Edmonds takes the shovel pass for a <a href="https://twitter.com/MiamiDolphins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MiamiDolphins</a> TD. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinsUp?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinsUp</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on Prime Video<br>Also available on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/Phmgdb9VGl">https://t.co/Phmgdb9VGl</a> <a href="https://t.co/q88lVoXMtE">pic.twitter.com/q88lVoXMtE</a>
Teddy Bridgewater & Tyreek Hill connect on a 64-yard gain. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsCIN?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsCIN</a> on Prime Video<br>Also available on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/Phmgdb9VGl">https://t.co/Phmgdb9VGl</a> <a href="https://t.co/2Tpd9kzoRZ">pic.twitter.com/2Tpd9kzoRZ</a>
Unfortunately for Bridgewater and the Dolphins, the valiant effort wasn't enough.
While he impressed with a long run to convert a third down into Cincinnati territory while trailing by five late in the fourth quarter, the drive came to an end when Vonn Bell picked him off for the safety's second interception of the game.
Next up for Miami is a divisional road game against the New York Jets, and the quarterback situation and Tagovailoa's health will be a central storyline leading up to it.