Tua Tagovailoa benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick in Dolphins' loss to Broncos; will remain starter

With the Miami Dolphins trailing the Denver Broncos, 20-10 in the fourth quarter Sunday, head coach Brian Flores replaced rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Broncos held on for a 20-13 victory after the quarterback switch.

Tagovailoa had his ankle rolled on a sack before leaving the game, but showed little sign of injury as he remained standing on the sideline when Fitzpatrick took his place.

It was the sixth sack of the day taken by Tagovailoa. The Dolphins rookie was 11-of-20 for 83 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the second half of an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 22, 2020 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Tua Tagovailoa will remain Dolphins’ starter

Flores told reporters after the game that the decision to bench Tagovailoa was about his performance, not injury.

“Tua wasn't injured,” Flores said. “We just felt like it was the best move at that point in the game. ... We just felt like [Fitzpatrick] gave us the best chance in the 2-minute drill.”

Flores said that Tagovailoa will remain the Dolphins starter next week against the New York Jets. Tagovailoa addressed his benching after the game.

“Coach felt like it was best to put Fitz in to give us a spark,” Tagovailoa told reporters. “When I heard that, it was really what's best for the team. If we were to win with Fitz in there, the locker room would be different. Everyone would be a lot happier. It just sucks to lose.”

Fitzpatrick ends last Dolphins possession with end-zone interception

Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to a field goal on his first drive to cut Denver’s lead to 20-13. But he sealed the Broncos’ victory by throwing an interception in the end zone to Justin Simmons on a third-down pass with 1:08 remaining. He finished 12 of 18 for 117 yards and the interception.

Fitzpatrick started the first six games for the Dolphins this season before Flores made the move to Tagovailoa in Week 8. The first-round rookie and future of the franchise thrived in his first three starts — all Dolphins wins — while completing 63.6 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdowns without an interception.

Flores has been lauded for leading the Dolphins turnaround this season en route to a 6-4 start. But there will be plenty of questions for the Miami head coach this week after Sunday’s controversial quarterback decision.

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