CINCINNATI – Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was taken to a local hospital with head and neck injuries sustained in a second quarter sack during Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals .
Tagovailoa hit the back of his head on the ground when he was sacked by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou, and his arms seemed to seize up almost immediately. He remained on the pitch for about 10 minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher and taken away.
The Dolphins said shortly before halftime that he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities at the hospital, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. After the game, they said Tagovailoa was to be discharged from the hospital Thursday night and return to Miami with the team.
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa called him when he went down.
“I could tell he wasn’t the same guy I used to see,” McDaniel said. “It was a scary moment. He was evaluated for a concussion. He’s in concussion protocol, but he’s being discharged.
“It’s an emotional moment. It’s not part of the deal you sign. His teammates and I were very concerned, but he was checked out and it’s nothing more than a concussion. .”
The entire Dolphins squad gathered in midfield when Tagovailoa was taken away, and the crowd chanted “Tua! Tua!”
In Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa suffered concussion evaluations at halftime after hitting his head on the ground and then tripping while trying to return to huddle. The team initially listed him as doubtful to return with a head injury, but later said it was a back injury that tripped him up. Tagovailoa said later in the week that he passed all the assessments he underwent before finally returning to play.
The NFL Players Association has called for a review of the NFL’s concussion protocols following Tagovailoa’s early return to play.
“The health and safety of the players is at the heart of the union’s mission. Our concern tonight is with Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential breach of protocol is ongoing,” the NFLPA said in a statement after Tagovailoa was injured on Thursday night.
McDaniel, asked if he knew with 100% certainty that Tagovailoa did not suffer a concussion after Sunday’s game, answered yes and noted that he had been cleared by an independent neurologist.
“People don’t stray. We don’t mess with that. As long as I’m the head coach, that’s never going to be a problem,” McDaniel said.
Asked if he could have done anything different after the Bills game, McDaniel said: “Absolutely zero patience for or will ever put a player in a position to be in danger. It’s not not at all what I am. No the result of a match would make me irresponsible as the head coach of a football team.”
Tagovailoa, 24, was listed as doubtful with a back injury for most of the week ahead of Thursday night’s game.
Before leaving the game, Tagovailoa was 8 for 14 for 110 yards and one interception.
Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill said players were asking for updates on the quarterback throughout the second half.
“You want to win the game, but obviously you want to make sure your brother is okay,” Hill said. “Football is only our part-time job, but this brotherhood is something that will last forever.”
Teddy Bridgewater came on for Tagovailoa and went 14-for-23 for 193 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the 27-15 loss. The Dolphins also had rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson active for the first time in his career.
Linebacker Jaelan Phillips said it was hard to compartmentalize after seeing Tagovailoa stretched out.
“That’s kind of the goal of football. We practice compartmentalizing every day. It’s not easy – we all love Tua,” he said. “It’s certainly difficult trying to refocus, but we tried.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.