Are You Not Entertained?!?

Are You Not Entertained

It was the worst of games; it was the best of games! The standing room only crowd looked down at the diminutive Samoan gladiator, bloodied in the heat, beaten, and bruised but still brandishing his bronze weapon and eager to fight. Torn flesh leaked slowly beneath his white and aqua warrior’s uniform betraying the damaged locations where his opponent had viciously attacked him before. Chest heaving from deep painful inhales as he tried to catch his breath underneath his pads, slow down his heart rate, and wipe the perspiration from his anxious brows. The Samoan gladiator tried to focus as the deafening jeers from the home stands had been mocking him for quite some time and he could hear a few distant voices even calling for his head. They did not feel the trigger man from the land of the Dolphins was worthy enough to be in their cathedral or coliseum competing in front of them. After all this gladiator was a stranger in their lands, far from home and their home team side was up by an incredible margin. An insurmountable margin. A comeback was impossible. All that was needing to happen next was for this Samoan gladiator to realize the finality of his situation and succumb to it. The current situation of this diminutive warrior seemed to confirm their bias that he just was not worthy of being a gladiator. They were guilty of counting him out too soon.

Just when it seemed like the home fan favorite Baltimore gladiator Lamar had laid the finishing blow with a 75-yard touchdown run, the Samoan gladiator looked up at his surrounding team of sentries and asked them to huddle up. In the huddle the Samoan gladiator defiantly told his teammates “It’s either us or them!” His team knew what that meant. Adversity was knocking on their door and the situation was admittedly bleak. No one would have blamed them for folding their tents and running for the hills. No one would have faulted them for retiring from the match. However, the Samoan Gladiator was not the type to cut and run. If it was a choice between “fight” or “flight” the answer was easy because fleeing was never an option. He was going down swinging with his shield. He was going to shoot his shots and reload until the other team was defeated or his munitions had run out. You can’t lose if you never quit. With the resolve of a madman and the confidence of an accomplished con artist, the Samoan Gladiator looked up to the crowd with arms open and yelled from his sun cracked lips, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?” The crowd was befuddled by the question because at that point their team had dominated this tiny gladiator in every aspect and the match had not been very entertaining up to that point. Little did they know that the Samoan gladiator, Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa, first of his name, was getting ready to start the fireworks show and they would all be witnesses to a moment in history.

Dolphins Ravens

September 18, 2022 is a date that will live in infamy, or so it felt in the beginning as the game started off with a gut punch and first half onslaught from the Baltimore Ravens. Duvernay took the opening kickoff 103 yards for the touchdown, and it just felt like a bad omen to start the game off with. The Dolphins were only on national TV in central to south Florida, the Baltimore metropolitan area, and the state of Alabama but it was the game of the week the NFL should have had on nationwide. The Miami Dolphins pulled off the most improbable comeback by erasing and eclipsing a 21-point deficit they had to Baltimore entering the fourth quarter. A feat that had not been accomplished in the last 755 attempts. In the past decade, teams that had a 21-point deficit in the fourth quarter were a combined 0-711, now that record sits at 1-711 due to the heroics of the three headed monster firm of Tagovailoa, Hill, and Waddle.

The Dolphins did not get points out of their first drive because after a few nice opening passes to Waddle and Gesicki, Tua ended up forcing it into double coverage to try to connect with Tyreek Hill right outside of the red zone and the pass was deflected and intercepted. Lamar Jackson led the Ravens right down to the one-inch line from the sudden change event. It felt like the black birds were getting ready to take a commanding 14-0 lead but after a review correctly saw that his touchdown run was short, Action Jackson took the step of going under center (something that he is not used to since he has always been in the shotgun formation since high school) and immediately fumbled the snap. The Dolphins took over and Tua led the Fins on a 95-yard touchdown drive culminating with the Houston Comet Jaylen Waddle catching a bubble screen and running in for six points behind great blocking and fleet feet. It felt like the bad omen of the poor start on the opening kick return was wiped away and a tabula rasa reset of the game had been initiated. Boy was I wrong about that good feeling for our suffering was imminent and nigh.

The scoring answer drive by the Dolphins was broken open by a big sixty yard catch and run by Waddle. He benefited from one-on-one coverage as the Ravens were insisting on taking Tyreek Hill out of the game by double and triple teaming him early, often, and late. It was a great display of play calling by Mike McDaniel and great execution by a banged-up Miami offensive line. However, in the blink of an eye before half time the Dolphins found themselves down 28-7 after another Tua interception was quickly turned to points when Nick Needham gave up a touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson.

Mike Gesicki was a wonderful feature of the offense that we did not get to see in week one and is actually the player that I credit with getting the rally going in the 2nd half. Gesicki made a huge gotta have it touchdown catch at the back of the endzone on 3rd and 13 to get the Dolphins out of their malaise and back in the fight. Settling for a field goal in that spot may not have served as enough necessary activation energy to get the enzymes working.

The Dolphin’s defense got gashed for 473 yards on the day but stood tall when it counted and held the Ravens offense to just three points in the final frame. Lamar Jackson had a stellar day with 318 passing yards, 119 rushing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, and 1 rushing score. With these numbers you would have thought for sure that he was the man of the match and the winner. However, these numbers were only good for second best on the day as Tua’s performance, notably in the second half, eclipsed Jackson’s. Tua was 36/50 (72%), 469 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Numbers only put up by former legendary Dolphins hall of fame quarterbacks named Marino and Griese. Tua notably did it in a win, unlike Marino, and he is the only one to do it in a 21-point comeback. Jaylen Waddle had 11 catches for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill who battled through cramps and missed parts of the 3rd and 4th quarters as a result would not be out done as he had 11 catches, 190 yards, and 2 touchdowns via deep bombs. They are the first teammates in the history of the NFL to put up those numbers. These are numbers not seen by a Miami receiving tandem since Clayton and Duper. If you had these guys on your fantasy team then congratulations, you probably had a very good day as well.

Dolphins Ravens Football

Miami head coach Mike McDaniel said after the game that he wanted to see his team fight through adversity in a game where they fell behind, but he did not realize that his team would take him so literally. What this proves is that the Dolphins now have the talent and resiliency to stare defeat in the face and defiantly refuse to go down. This proves that Tua has the heart of a champion and is a leader of men even when the circumstances are dire. The Dolphins would not allow adversity to cause them to fold under the pressure or in a hostile road environment. Tua would not allow them to cave because he now has a firm foundation to stand on with a coach who empowers him and imbues him with confidence. Tua is now eight wins to one loss against Superbowl winning head coaches in the league and he has now made a routine out of dispatching the Patriots and Ravens. These are teams that historically have always had the Dolphins’ number. This was one of the most fun Dolphins games that I have seen in a long time, the best one since the famous “Miracle in Miami” game.

Master Mike McDaniel has made all the difference in the world with his expert complimentary play calling and incorporating an element in his offensive line scheme that was pointed out by a colleague of mine. McDaniel’s scheme allows the interior of the offensive line to attack their blocking assignments from slightly different angles when necessary. This creates little creases and pockets for the backs to slip through and pick up respectable gains that keeps the 2nd and 3rd down conversions short or manageable. It also allows the line to get assistance from the backs, when necessary, which is why a lot of the Baltimore blitzes did not get home on Sunday. Tua’s pocket presence also allowed for the mitigation of the Raven’s rush, and he extended plays with his legs by stepping up in the pocket or breaking out left to his strong side and uncorking on point passes while on the run. It was a beautiful game to suffer through and our patience paid off as we all exclaimed in jubilation when young Jaylen Waddle squeezed the winning touchdown pass. We can now officially put to bed the notion that Tua cannot throw a deep pass. He had several on the day including 50, 60, and 70 yard bombs. The next matchup for the Dolphins is a tough one against our hated rivals in Buffalo. At least that means that we will not have to go up there in the freezing cold this year. Fins up!

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