Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa carted off with rib injury

MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins consider themselves subscribers to the "next man up" philosophy.

But even so, when injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa left in the first quarter of Sunday's 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills, it was a shift in momentum that Miami never recovered from.

"It hurt losing Tua," Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said. "But hopefully he's back next week."

Tagovailoa was carted off to the locker room with a rib injury after taking a hit from Bills defensive end AJ Epenesa during Miami's second drive of the game. On fourth-and-1, Epenesa blew past Dolphins right tackle Jesse Davis and hit Tagovailoa as he threw a pass. The ball fell incomplete, and Tagovailoa was slow to get up before trying to leave the field.

He collapsed to the ground before he got to the Dolphins' sideline, however, and was attended to by trainers before walking gingerly to the sideline. Tagovailoa briefly sat on the bench before being carted to the locker room. Jacoby Brissett replaced him in the game.

"Don't know the severity of the injury right now," head coach Brian Flores said after the game. "But we're going to run some tests tonight and tomorrow morning and we'll hopefully have a little more information.

"We have to regroup. We didn't do a good enough job of that. I mean, we talk about it, kind of a 'next man up' mentality. Jacoby has to go in the game. It's a team effort. Really across the board -- O-line, running backs, tight ends, receivers. We didn't get good enough execution across the board."

Brissett finished 24-of-40 passing for 169 yards and an interception, which Flores said was "not good enough" -- a descriptor he applied to Miami's entire team, himself included. The former third-round draft pick has started 32 games during his six-year career, including 15 for the Indianapolis Colts in both 2017 and 2019. He may be the Dolphins' backup quarterback on paper, but Brissett said he doesn't refer to himself "as a backup quarterback" and that he will prepare for Miami's Week 3 game against the Las Vegas Raiders as he would any other week.

The North Carolina State product called himself a starter, and his mentality hasn't changed even after signing with a Miami team this offseason that had just drafted a quarterback with the fifth overall pick in 2020.

"I think in this NFL, nobody gives you anything, right?" Brissett said. "You've got to go out there and compete and be ready when your opportunity comes, however it comes. You've just got to go out there when you get your opportunity and make the most of it."

The Bills played aggressively to start the game, pressuring Tagovailoa on four of the six snaps he took, including two sacks on Miami's opening drive. Brissett said Buffalo's game plan was "no different" from what the Dolphins had seen on film, but the Bills still finished with six sacks, 11 QB hits and nine tackles for loss.

Left tackle Austin Jackson said the Bills "definitely did some different things" than what they showed on film, and that although in the moment they had to move on to the next play, Tagovailoa's injury is something that will stick with them moving forward.

"You never want to see your quarterback hurt or on the ground -- those are two terrible [plays] that we all kick ourselves over," he said. "I think there's definitely a lot of things we can get better at, things that we will get better about. Let me say that, too. We're not hoping, going out there and praying. It's hard work that we put in. We'll do it."

Miami travels to Las Vegas to take on the 2-0 Raiders next Sunday, with the opportunity to right the ship -- regardless of who is taking snaps under center.

"It's early in the season, second game of the season," Brissett said. "It's not like the house is burning."

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