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Tua Tagovailoa 'Rattled' in 3-Turnover Game as Dolphins Fall to Brock Purdy, 49ers

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2022

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 04: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have a pretty scary defense. Just ask Tua Tagovailoa.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback threw two interceptions, lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, was sacked three times and left Sunday's 33-17 loss to the Niners with an ankle injury.

Talk about a tough night at the office.

Tagovailoa has been excellent at protecting the ball this season and had gone 193 pass attempts without an interception, per the FOX broadcast (h/t The Sporting News), before throwing picks on back-to-back throws against San Francisco.

NFL Twitter was surprised to see Tagovailoa struggle so much to protect the ball against the 49ers:

Ryan Talbot @RyanTalbotBills

Tua Tagovailoa was rattled early versus the 49ers. First really bad game of the season that I can think of. He'll be okay, but San Francisco came up with a formula that some teams will try to replicate (try as they have some special defensive personnel).

Colin Cowherd @ColinCowherd

Tua vs pressure today…is…not…great.

Louis Riddick @LRiddickESPN

Just not good today. Not good. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tua?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tua</a>

Emmanuel Acho @EmmanuelAcho

Me trying to figure out what in the world is going on with Tua! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinsUp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinsUp</a> <a href="https://t.co/tItH1tE5gz">pic.twitter.com/tItH1tE5gz</a>

Richard Sherman @RSherman_25

Tua has not played a Defense like this all season! If you wondered whether the <a href="https://twitter.com/49ers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@49ers</a> Defense was for real well…. You tell me<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/N8UBRktE4K">pic.twitter.com/N8UBRktE4K</a>

Will Manso @WillManso

Can’t make excuses. Tua didn’t play well. Not having starting tackles obviously didn’t help, but he missed lots of throws. Defense couldn’t take advantage of rookie backup QB in. Oh, and Niners defense is sick. A game like this was bound to happen. Let’s see how Miami responds.

Chris Trapasso @ChrisTrapasso

A huge part of Tua's breakout that wasn't being discussed enough IMO is how much the OL was improved. Armstead's presence was enormously positive for the O and Tua. No Armstead = big problems. <a href="https://t.co/ChVfuD85GK">https://t.co/ChVfuD85GK</a>

Josh Norris @JoshNorris

really bad day for Tua thus far versus the NFL's best defense at covering his best area - intermediate<br><br>pass catchers have been open, though. He's simply sailing them.

Benjamin Solak @BenjaminSolak

This Tua performance is worse than I expected it would be. The early-game hits have clearly made him jumpy. Accuracy, timing, and trust in the offense have all fallen away. The Niners are pressing, sending heat, and daring Tua to beat them vertically -- so far, he hasn't.

tom stakes @tomstakes

MVP group text 💬<br><br>Tua has left the chat.

It wasn't all bad for the young quarterback; he also threw for 295 yards and two scores, including a 75-yard strike to Trent Sherfield on the game's first play from scrimmage. And after his 45-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill early in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins only found themselves down 23-17 despite Tagovailoa's struggles.

But Robbie Gould's field goal with just 2:03 remaining, and Tagovailoa's fumble on the ensuing drive that was taken to the house by Dre Greenlaw, wrapped things up for the Niners.

While Tagovailoa faltered, Niners backup quarterback Brock Purdy—who was thrust into action after Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a foot injury in the first quarter and was unable to return—had an excellent game considering the circumstances, finishing 25-of-37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

It might be unfair to say that Purdy outplayed Tagovailoa, but he certainly managed the game well, helping his team win the turnover battle 4-1. That ultimately was the difference between the teams, as Miami's turnovers led to 13 points.