By Patrick Gainor, Staff Writer
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Miami Dolphins 27-15 on Thursday in front of a record-breaking crowd at Paycor Stadium. Joe Burrow followed up from last week with another solid game, going 20/31 for 287 yards and touchdowns to both Tee Higgins, who led all receivers with 124 yards on seven catches, and Hayden Hurst to put the game away late. Safety Vonn Bell also snagged two interceptions en route to a great defensive stand holding Miami to one touchdown.
However, the much-needed Bengals victory will not be what is remembered from this game.
With less than six minutes left in the first half, Miami star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was sacked by defensive tackle Josh Topou. He took the blow to the back of his head and was completely immobilized. He left the game on a stretcher and was taken to the University of Cincinnati Hospital for further evaluation.
This injury comes just five days after a previous concussion he suffered in last week’s win against the Buffalo Bills. Last week, Tagovailoa was forced to leave the game in the final minutes of the first half, where he was seen stumbling to the sideline. However, he was cleared to play after passing concussion protocol. His injury was reassessed and deemed a back injury, which allowed him to finish the game.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), who began an investigation into the Dolphins’ treatment of Tagovailoa’s injury, said they would “pursue all legal options” against the team. On Saturday, the neurotrauma consultant who cleared Tagovailoa to play in the second half vs. Buffalo was fired for “several mistakes” in his evaluation.
In a statement released on Sunday, the NFL and the NFLPA announced that they will be reworking the concussion protocol in the wake of this injury. They announced the Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee “have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability’ and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process.”
Both the Dolphins organization and the league itself have received massive criticism for the handling of this injury. Tagovailoa was discharged from the hospital late Thursday night and flew back to Miami with the team. In a statement on Twitter, he said that he is “feeling much better” and “focused on recovering.” The quarterback is currently in concussion protocol and there is no timetable for his return. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will play under center in his absence.
Miami falls to 3-1 and will face the New York Jets in East Rutherford on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Bengals improve to 2-2 and now lead the AFC East thanks to losses by the Ravens, Browns and Steelers. They will head to Baltimore next week for a key divisional matchup on Sunday Night Football.
Bills 23, Ravens 20: Heading into the final minutes of the first half, the Ravens looked to be locking down the Bills with a 20-3 lead. However, a brilliant defensive stand, a late interception by Lamar Jackson and a game winning field goal by Tyler Bass helped Buffalo score 20 unanswered for the comeback win. This is the second time in three weeks the Ravens have blown a three score lead.
Chiefs 41, Buccaneers 31: Magic Mahomes was in full swing on Sunday night in the final matchup between two legendary quarterbacks, as the Kansas City quarterback threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, one of which is a contender for play of the year. Tom Brady, despite throwing for almost 400 yards, was unable to keep pace with the Chiefs as The Bucs lose back to back games at home.Jaguars 21, Eagles 29: In Doug Pederson’s return to Philly, Trevor Lawrence and the Jags surged out to an early 14-0 lead. However, another brilliant offensive performance led by Miles Sanders along with several key mistakes by Jacksonville helped Philly surge back and secure their fourth straight win. The Eagles are now the last undefeated team in the NFL, and are clear favorites to win the NFC East. (Also, the Jaguars aren’t terrible this year. Weird.)