NCAA Football

Dolphins Score vs. Bears takeaway: Tua Tagovailoa beats Justin Fields in historic performance game

Dolphins Score vs. Bears takeaway: Tua Tagovailoa beats Justin Fields in historic performance game

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields played Sunday’s game like it was a Saturday matchup between Alabama and Ohio State, each with numbers that could only be imagined in a video game of NCAA Football in the Dolphins’ 35-32 win in Chicago. Tagovailoa became the first quarterback in Dolphins history with more than 300 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back games thanks to his 302 yards and three scores on 21-for-30.

Fields went toe-to-toe with Tagovailoa and his powerful pass catchers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle with an unprecedented performance. Fields became the first player in NFL history with three passing touchdowns and over 150 rushing yards in the same game. He also broke the NFL regular-season single-game rushing yards record with 178 on the field against Miami, 61 of which came on his only score of the day. Fields’ rushing touchdown marked the longest run of his career. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick held the previous record with 173 rushing yards in Week 13 of the 2002 season against the Minnesota Vikings.

One of the key differences between Tagovailoa and Fields’ afternoon was how Miami’s players made magic on their own, as essentially everything the Bears did offensively stemmed solely from Fields’ singular brilliance. Hill finished with seven receptions, 143 receiving yards and a three-yard touchdown, bringing his season total for receiving yards to 1,104, the most through a player’s first nine games in the Super Bowl era. Hill surpassed Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson’s record of 1,083 receiving yards through the first nine games of the 2013 season.

Waddle also showed up for his quarterback, recording 85 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. The Dolphins’ dynamic duo has combined for 1,916 receiving yards this season, the most by any teammate through nine games in the Super Bowl era. They broke the previous record of 1,878 receiving yards set by the fantastic “The Greatest Show on Turf” tandem of Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.

The Dolphins scored touchdowns on four of their first five offensive possessions with their fifth score of the day on the Bears’ first punt, which they blocked for a 25-yard punt return score. Fields had one last chance to lead the Bears into overtime or a victory with Chicago gaining possession of the football with 2:50 to play. He was only able to collect one first down before a layup and back-to-back incompletions thwarted his last-ditch efforts.

The win improves the Dolphins to 6-3 overall and 6-0 this season when Tagovailoa starts and finishes a game. Chicago falls to 3-6 overall with losses in five of its last six games after starting the season 2-1.

Why the Dolphins won

The Dolphins were unstoppable early on, scoring an offensive touchdown on four of their first five drives in addition to their seven special teams points blocking a punt. Tagovailoa completed his first nine passes for 111 yards and a touchdown on the Dolphins’ first two touchdown drives. The Shanahan offense that head coach Mike McDaniel has brought to Miami, after working alongside current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan in 14 of his 15 NFL seasons as an assistant with five different teams, he has taken his quarterback’s game to another level. Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passing yards per attempt (9.2) and passer rating (115.9) through nine weeks. If he can maintain that level through the end of the season, Tagovailoa would become the first Dolphin to lead the NFL in passer rating since Dan Marino in his 1984 MVP season.

Tagovailoa’s best was needed after Fields’ 61-yard touchdown run cut Miami’s lead to three, 28-25. He delivered, marching the Dolphins 75 yards down the field, and set off with his third and final touchdown pass of the day to trade deadline day running back Jeff Wilson Jr. The connection stretched Miami’s lead to double. -digits, 35-25. McDaniel continues his rebuilding of the 49ers backfield that he coached for five seasons (2017-2021) with Raheem Mostert and Wilson Jr. once again topping their running back depth chart.

Why the bears lost

Running from behind isn’t a recipe for success for this Bears team that runs the football on 59.5% of their offensive plays, the highest rate in the NFL. Chicago faced 11-point deficits twice, 21-10 in the second quarter and 28-17 in the third. Fields’ legs and arm accounted for 301 of Chicago’s 378 total yards, with running back David Montgomery finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher with 36 yards on 14 carries and wide receiver Darnell Mooney finishing as the team’s leading receiver with 43 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. The quarterback had just one more carry, 15, but 142 more rushing yards than Montgomery.

For the Bears to finish these kinds of offensive plays and swings, Fields needs more from his supporting cast. His last pass of the day hit an Equanimeous St. Brown on the chest, but the receiver couldn’t hang on for a game-tying catch. Tight end Cole Kmet had a career-high two receiving touchdowns in the red zone, but didn’t add much else to the offense in terms of being able to regularly help move the chains, and finish with five receptions for 41 yards.

Crucial moment

Wilson Jr.’s 10-yard catch-and-run. for six it was the game-winning touchdown, building a double-digit lead that Fields and the Bears couldn’t get past the end of regulation. The newly acquired running back co-leads the Dolphins with he and Mostert having nine each. However, the former Dolphins’ newest 49er running back led the team in rushing yards with 51. It was an encouraging debut as McDaniel can continue to reintegrate Wilson Jr. to their game plans at ever-increasing volumes.

game of the game

The play of the game is Miami’s blocked punt return for a touchdown as they needed all five touchdowns the team scored today to stop Fields’ historic outing. The special teams score allowed the Dolphins to relax for the first time Sunday as it gave them their first double-digit lead of the game, 21-10.

What follows

The Dolphins will return home for one more game before their Week 11 bye against the Cleveland Browns. The Bears host one of their NFC North rivals, the Detroit Lions in Week 10, a team fresh off a 15-9 loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Lions forced the back-to-back NFL MVP into multiple interceptions in a division game for the first time since Week 17 of the 2013 season.

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