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5 biggest moments between the Rams defense and Tua Tagovailoa

The Dolphins got the better of the Rams, but it wasn’t a smooth debut for Miami’s rookie quarterback.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The talk leading up to Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins was focused around Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was making the first start of his young career.

A highly touted rookie quarterback against one of the league’s strongest defenses was sure to incite fireworks.

Here were the five defining moments between Tagovailoa and the Rams’ D, in what ended up being a 28-17 Dolphins victory.

1. Strip-sacked on his first dropback

I don’t envy any quarterback who makes a start against Aaron Donald, let alone their first career start.

And indeed, it took all of one dropback for Tagovailoa to feel Donald’s pressure, and more specifically, his hand.

Donald said before the game that he wanted to get to the rookie, and he only needed one opportunity to do so, strip-sacking the fifth overall pick.

2. First career touchdown

It didn’t take too long for Tagovailoa to get his revenge. After a few rough possessions, the rookie got Miami on the board with his first career touchdown, a three-yard pass to DeVante Parker as the clock expired in the first quarter.

3. Donald blows up the wildcat

Tagovailoa learned the hard way that you can’t run the same offensive actions over and over against elite defenders. Miami got a few modest gains off of this play before Donald completely blew it up.

4. Rams defense dominates even without Jalen Ramsey

Tagovailoa may have earned the most important stat on Sunday, when he left the field with a 28-17 win. But that was more about the Dolphins defense and special teams, as well as Jared Goff’s foibles, than it was about anything Tagovailoa did.

Los Angeles was without Jalen Ramsey for most of the game, but still dominated Miami’s offense. Here were the Dolphins drives:

  • 0 yards (fumble)
  • 12 yards (punt)
  • 5 yards (punt)
  • 33 yards (touchdown)
  • 4 yards (fumble)
  • 6 yards (punt)
  • 1 yard (touchdown)
  • 9 yards (punt)
  • 15 yards (punt)
  • 4 yards (punt)
  • 3 yards (punt)
  • 27 yards (punt)
  • 18 yards (punt)

Holding an offense to no drives in excess of 33 yards is pretty impressive, and certainly displays how much the Rams lost the game in other areas.

5. Tua’s numbers put him in a not great club

Looking at the aforementioned drives, it shouldn’t be surprising that Tagovailoa didn’t have a very good game statistically. He finished just 12 for 22 for 93 yards, with two carries for no yards.

That made him just the seventh quarterback this century to have at least 20 pass attempts in his first start, but finish with fewer than 100 yards. On the one hand, it’s just one game. On the other hand, the other six quarterbacks are Luke Falk, Brett Hundley, Tarvaris Jackson, Dave Ragone, Alex Smith, and Andrew Walter, so not exactly sterling company.