Tua takes blame for late-game miscues vs. Chiefs

Tua takes blame for late-game miscues vs. Chiefs

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  • Marcel Louis-Jacques, ESPNNov 5, 2023, 03:04 PM ET

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      Marcel Louis-Jacques joined ESPN in 2019 as a beat reporter covering the Buffalo Bills, before switching to the Miami Dolphins in 2021. The former Carolina Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer won the APSE award for breaking news and the South Carolina Press Association award for enterprise writing in 2018.

FRANKFURT, Germany — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took responsibility for how Sunday’s 21-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs ended, as the team’s attempted comeback from a 21-point deficit fell short in the final minute.

The Chiefs scored 21 straight points in the first half but were shut out in the second half as the Dolphins pulled within one score by the end of the third quarter. With 1:07 remaining in the game, Miami faced third-and-10 from the Chiefs’ 31-yard line. Cedrick Wilson appeared to break free from cornerback Jaylen Watson for what could have been the game-tying touchdown, but the pass from Tagovailoa floated well behind the wide receiver as Wilson jumped in frustration.

On the next play, Tagovailoa missed an off-target snap from center Connor Williams, resulting in a 13-yard loss and a turnover on downs.

Tagovailoa shouldered the blame for both miscues.

“What happened with me and Ced, that was just miscommunication, and in big-time moments, those things like that can’t happen,” Tagovailoa said. “I’ve got to throw a better ball. It was just miscommunication there. Then with the last play of the game, I’m always going to blame myself. I’ve got to catch the ball. Whether that’s getting in a better position to catch it or whatever it is, can’t end the game like that when we have an opportunity like that against a really good team.”

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said he wasn’t surprised to see Tagovailoa take responsibility for both plays but added that the blame ultimately falls on the coach.

Tagovailoa declined to specify what the miscommunication was between him and Wilson, but McDaniel explained it was a misinterpreted audible.

“The miscommunication is something that doesn’t happen if I put them in the appropriate situation during the week,” McDaniel said. “So Tua didn’t have time to observe. He signaled kind of a one route that has a conversion, and Cedrick interpreted it as another thing. And that’s just things that, when you’re working together as a football team, you have the right effort and mentality from all your players, that is a hundred percent something that I can control personally.”

Tagovailoa went 21-of-34 for a season-low 193 yards and one touchdown. While Raheem Mostert‘s runs of 25 and 19 yards to start the Dolphins’ final drive put them in Chiefs territory, all three of Tagovailoa’s pass attempts on the drive fell incomplete.

Miami outgained the Chiefs 292-267 in a surprisingly defensive matchup between two of the best offenses in the NFL. The Dolphins’ defense allowed just 14 points; Kansas City scored a defensive touchdown off a Tyreek Hill fumble.

The loss marked the Dolphins’ third of the season — all against teams with winning records. While the comeback effort was valiant, the team isn’t looking for moral victories at this point.

“It’s frustrating for sure because you want to win these big games,” linebacker Bradley Chubb said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, we’re playing these guys this week, let’s go out there and lose.’ We play our hearts out until the whistle ends, and you see it in this team. We’ve got fight. We’ve got everything that you possibly need from a championship-caliber team. It’s just about honing in on those little details when it really matters and finding ways to win these games.

“Making it close is not good enough for us anymore, so we’ve just got to find ways to win.”

Facing his former team for the first time since he was traded to the Dolphins last offseason, Hill had a team-high eight catches for 62 yards. But he had two critical drops and lost the fumble that ultimately decided the game.

“I think I played overall pretty well. Some tight window throws, and [the Chiefs] did a great job of making it hard on me all day,” Hill said. “They had a real good plan on slowing us down at the line of scrimmage. It’s on me to make plays. That’s why they brought me here, to make plays in these type of games. … As a receiver, I never think about how many drops I got in a game. I’m always thinking about the next play, baby. That’s how I became who I am today.

“Everybody drops passes. It happens. But it’s all about how you move on to the next play. I’ve got to learn from it, go to the film room, learn from it, and find better ways to get open.”

The Dolphins haven’t beaten a team with a winning record since Week 3 of the 2022 season; the combined record of the opponents they have beaten in their six wins this season is 11-27.

Regarding the narrative that the Dolphins can’t beat good teams, McDaniel said it’s up to them to influence what is said about them.

“I think people undervalue poor records,” he said. “It is hard to win in this league. And so, to win in any right against any opponent is something not to take for granted. And as long as you continue to get better, ultimately that narrative will subside. But that’s on us collectively from coaches and players alike.

“If you want the narrative to change, change the narrative.”

The Dolphins enter their Week 10 bye with a half-game lead over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

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