Tua Tagovailoa has spent the entirety of this season as an MVP candidate, as he’s been healthy and productive all year running the league’s most explosive offense. He is among the top of all of the quarterback statistics and was a key component of the only offense to score 70 points in the last 50 years of NFL football.
But you may have heard this 2023 Jets defense has been having its way with elite quarterbacks this season. They forced multiple turnovers out of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts and did their part to add Tagovailoa to that list during that Black Friday game.
In just one minute of play, the NY Jets intercepted Tagovailoa twice to change the complexion of the game. The first was a pick-six, which could’ve changed the score from 10-0 to 10-7, but Greg Zuerlein missed the extra point, so the score was 10-6.
A mere six plays later, D.J. Reed picked off Tagovailoa to give the Jets the ball 49 yards away from the end zone with two seconds left. Zach Wilson had already thrown two Hail Marys this season that bounced off the hands of a Jets receiver so I fully support Robert Saleh’s train of thought in calling for a Hail Mary in this situation.
Best case scenario? A touchdown is scored, and the Jets go into halftime with a lead. Worst-case scenario? A meaningless pick in the endzone.
Welp, enter Tim Boyle — whose noodle arm couldn’t even reach the endzone and paved the way for Jevon Holland to return an interception 99 yards and increase the score to 17-6 in favor of the Dolphins at the half.
Forget about the 11-point differential — the momentum shift from that infamous ‘Hell Mary’ was of astronomical proportions — they could’ve just called it a game at halftime if it wasn’t for fantasy football players like me who needed Garrett Wilson’s garbage time score to help win that week.
But the point remains that Tagovailoa struggled against the Jets' defense, even if that struggle went largely unnoticed by fans/media because Tim Boyle played like he just graduated from Bishop Sycamore.
The NY Jets defense held Tua Tagovailoa in check earlier this season
For a player who was averaging 287 yards per game, 1.9 TDs per game, 0.6 INTs per game, and 106.8 passer rating, having 243, 1 TD, 2 INTs (T-season high), and a 77.5 passer rating (season low) is a bad game.
We can only imagine how much worse those numbers could’ve been if the Jets had any type of complementary football attack that allowed the defense to rest for more than four plays at a time.
Three total turnovers is never a good game, and that’s what the Jets were able to force from Tagovailoa as they recovered a fumble from him as well. I’m sure he’s looking for revenge, and fellow AFC East QB Josh Allen had a nice bounce-back game against the Jets this season, but is Tagovailoa cut from that same cloth?
With a less than 100% Tyreek Hill, I think that Tagovailoa has another subpar performance against this elite defense that just shut down the league’s passing leader, C.J. Stroud, to 91 yards.