News & Analysis

NFL Week 9 PFF ReFocused: Miami Dolphins 34, Arizona Cardinals 31

Nov 8, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) breaks the tackle of Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (44) and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (33) during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa going toe to toe with Kyler Murray instantly became an unexpected classic, with the two quarterbacks going back and forth late in the game only for Miami to seal the win via a Tagovailoa sneak for the critical first down.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

The Cardinals had driven down for a potential game-tying kick only to see Zane Gonzalez come up short from 49 yards despite having significantly more leg than that in the tank. That gave Miami a final drive to use up the remaining clock and keep the ball away from the Cardinals. By a matter of inches, they were able to get that done on the sneak.

Thanks to his extra rushing dimension, Murray was the more productive of the two quarterbacks, and one of Miami’s scores came from a scooped fumble. But Tagovailoa was far more accomplished and poised this week than in his debut start a week ago.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs against Miami Dolphins running back Matt Breida (22) during the second quarter in Glendale, Ariz. November 8, 2020.

Tagovailoa was far from perfect and dodged a bullet early when he nearly threw an interception on a pass thrown away at the sideline. In the second half, the rookie settled into a much better rhythm and had some outstanding accurate passes as well as a miracle escape and scramble from the pocket.

In addition to both quarterbacks, there were some impressive performances from receivers on both sides of the ball, with Miami receivers making several clutch catches in tough situations — and the same thing being true on the Arizona side. Tight end Maxx Williams had a nice adjustment for his touchdown catch, while Darrell Daniels took the ball clean away from Byron Jones in the end zone to turn a blown play into a score.

Rookie Watch

As noted, Tua was far more efficient and productive than he was a week ago when he was more of a passenger of the win. Against Arizona, he had an adjusted completion rate of 80% despite averaging more than 10 yards downfield in depth of target. This will at least quiet the craziness that Miami regrets the draft pick given the success of Justin Herbert.

On the offensive line, Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson manned the tackle spots for Miami, with Hunt enjoying the more solid day of the two. He allowed less pressure and also avoided the penalty that Jackson was flagged for.

With injuries in the backfield, Miami also got snaps from rookies Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Perry. Ahmed had seven attempts for 38 yards, 17 of which came after contact, while Perry functioned as the receiving back with no carries to his name but 15 snaps on passing downs.

On the defensive line, Raekwon Davis was a force in this game with three defensive stops and a hurry. Safety Brandon Jones also had an impressive cameo on just 14 snaps, including a great play on the fumble-return touchdown to get ahead of the ball and throw a block.

For Arizona, top pick Isaiah Simmons played 38 snaps on defense, a new season high. He made one defensive stop and was the first defender to contact the ball carrier twice.

Undrafted corner Jace Whittaker played 43 snaps and was targeted twice, giving up two catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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