The Miami Dolphins’ loss in Week 17 of the 2021 season cost them a playoff spot, but it may have saved the future of the franchise and Tua Tagovailoa.
The Miami Dolphins were the hottest team in football.
After getting off to an abysmal 1-7 start during the 2021 season, they had completely turned things around by the time they played a road game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 17. They were riding a seven-game winning streak, and were miraculously in control of their own playoff destiny, and sitting in the final wild card spot entering the final two weeks of the year. For Miami, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his performance would likely be the deciding factor in the game against Tennessee.
The Dolphins laid an egg. The defense gave up four touchdowns and two field goals on the day, and the offense mustered just three points, and the Titans won in dominating fashion by a score of 34-3. Tagovailoa had a particularly bad game, arguably the worst of his career. He completed just 18 of 38 passes and threw a pick, and was also sacked a season-high four times. He had issues with simple ball handling as well, as the cold weather had an obvious effect on his grip. Cameras eventually caught head coach Brian Flores laying in to the QB on the sidelines after the interception, with Tua seemingly ignoring the noise.
Miami was effectively eliminated from playoff contention, with another meaningless season finale still left to be played. It was later reported that the coach and quarterback had a blowup in the locker room at halftime of the game in Tennessee, one in which Flores was “furious” with how Tagovailoa was playing and had no issue letting him know about it. Tua responded by saying that Flores “doesn’t know how to talk to people”.