Tua Tagovailoa is entering a critical season as Miami’s starting quarterback, so with OTAs wrapped up, it’s an excellent time to take a look back at the highlights from his first two NFL seasons.
This article is part of a series highlighting the best five games, throws, and runs of Tagovailoa’s career.
To select Tagovailoa’s five career-best runs, we asked two questions. How impressive was the run? And how much impact did the run have on the outcome of the game? Tagovailoa’s overall performance in each game was not considered, and obviously, this list is highly subjective.
Here’s a countdown of what we consider to be Tagovailoa’s best runs from the past two seasons.
No. 5: 23-yard run vs New England Patriots (2021, Week 18)
This run makes the list for one simple reason — it’s the longest run of Tagovailoa’s career. Tagovailoa isn’t known as a scrambler, so this run has to crack the list given how long it ended up being.
To be fair, he did technically avoid a defender in the backfield on this play — and bonus points because it happened to be former teammate Kyle Van Noy — and he did convert a third-and-long, which gives it at least some style and impact points. Overall, this run helped Miami extend their lead from 14 points to 17 in a game they ended up winning by nine.
It’s not the most impressive run, but it was effective.
No. 4: 9-yard run vs New York Jets (2021, Week 15)
This run gets a lot of fanfare because of how physically Tagovailoa finished this run, and that definitely makes it worthy of making this list.
It got the Dolphins sideline going and it added to the momentum the team was already building. Additionally, Miami would score the game's winning touchdown on this drive, making at least somewhat impactful.
With all of that said, the player Tagovailoa “ran over” on this play was defensive back Michael Carter II, who is listed on the Jets’ website at just 184 pounds. For reference, Tagovailoa is listed at 216 pounds, so it’s actually not too surprising he bowled over Carter II for some extra yards.
It’s a solid run, but it doesn’t need to be any higher than No. 4.
No. 3: Game winning touchdown vs New England Patriots (2020, Week 15)
We debated even putting this run on the list because it’s not exactly an “impressive” run given Tagovailoa only had to go about 3 yards to the end zone.
However, this run gets a lot of points for its impact on the game, making it a worthwhile inclusion on this list. This run came with 12 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Dolphins trailing 9-7.
Tagovailoa’s run put the Dolphins up 13-9, and then they converted the two-point conversion, extending their lead to 15-9.
Although this run doesn’t look like much, it represents one of only two fourth comeback wins in Tagovailoa’s career, the other coming Nov. 8, 2020 against the Arizona Cardinals.
For that significance alone, it deserves to be this high on the list despite it lacking some style points.
No. 2: 8-yard run vs Atlanta Falcons (2021, Week 7)
While the previous run earned its way onto the list thanks to its impact but lacked flash, this run is the complete opposite as Tagovailoa got the better of Falcons linebacker Deion Jones in the open field.
Tagovialoa’s favorite move in the open field is the dead leg he uses on this run to slip by Jones for a first down. Not only did he avoid direct contact with Jones, he also escaped a pocket that collapsed pretty quickly after the snap.
Jones does trip him up, and the Dolphins didn’t score on this drive after a Jason Sanders field goal attempt was blocked.
It wasn’t an impactful run, but not a ton of other quarterbacks make this juke effectively enough to make a linebacker with a clear shot miss in the open field.
No. 1: 6-yard run vs Arizona Cardinals (2020, Week 9)
This was an easy pick for Tagovailoa’s best career run because it combines style and impact fairly well.
For starters, Miami is third-and-4 inside its own territory trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, and it was the first road start of his career. To make matters worse, a free blitzer immediately gets into the backfield off the snap, forcing Tagovailoa to make him miss, which he does.
Then he gets into the open field and is met by Cardinals safety Budda Baker, who was an All-Pro in 2020, but Tagovailoa uses his trusty dead leg move to avoid Baker enough to pick up the first down.
Tagovailoa would cap off the drive with a touchdown pass to Mack Hollins, tying the score 31-31 and allowing the Dolphins to pull out the win after a Jason Sanders field goal.
Tagovailoa isn’t much of a scrambler, but this third-down conversion was both impressive thanks to players he avoided and impactful since the drive ended with a game-tying touchdown, resulting in Tagovailoa’s other fourth-quarter comeback victory.