Tua Tagovailoa to start in final week of regular season, Dolphins coach Brian Flores says

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins looks to throw against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of their game at Allegiant Stadium on December 26, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 26-25. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Fans who were hoping to see the full scope of a potential Marcus Mariota-Tua Tagovailoa matchup in Week 16 of the 2020 NFL season ended up disappointed when they tuned in to see neither finish the game in a riveting 26-25 win for the Miami Dolphins over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.

Mariota didn’t play, while Tagovailoa completed 17 of his 22 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. But after Miami’s offense grew stale in the second half, Tagovailoa was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the Dolphins to a miraculous victory that kept the Dolphins in the playoff hunt.

Miami improved to 10-5, while Las Vegas dropped to 7-8 and was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Both teams are heading into different directions heading into the final week of the regular season, but both Mariota and Tagovailoa figure to start at quarterback in Week 17.

Following Saturday’s win, Miami coach Brian Flores told the media that despite the win Fitzpatrick provided, Tagovailoa is still the team’s starter and will get the first opportunity to take snaps under center when the team takes on the Buffalo Bills in a pivotal matchup next week.

Meanwhile, Raiders starter Derek Carr battled a groin injury all week before taking on the Dolphins and was a game-time decision. Mariota showed flashes of his potential in his 2020 season debut on Dec. 17 against the Chargers and was prepared to compete against the Dolphins if Carr wasn’t going to be ready. With no playoff spot left to play for, it could be time for the Raiders to get another look at what they have in Mariota, the highest-paid backup quarterback in the NFL. Coincidentally, the Raiders will play against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium next week, the same place where Mariota lost his job to Ryan Tannehill as the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans in 2019.

[Latest stories from Hawaii’s Sports Station — KHON2 Sports]

Here are how other players from Hawaii performed during Week 16 of the NFL season:

Active roster

Tyson Alualu, defensive lineman, Pittsburgh Steelers (Saint Louis): Alualu had three tackles (two solo), including one for loss, as the Steelers returned to their winning ways to beat the Indianapolis Colts 28-24. After starting 11-0, the Steelers lost three straight before improving to 12-3 in Week 16, clinching the AFC North after the win.

Bradlee Anae, defensive end, Dallas Cowboys (Kahuku): Anae was ruled inactive prior to the team’s 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

DeForest Buckner, defensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts (Punahou): Buckner had two tackles (one solo) and a pass deflection in a 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kamalei Correa, outside linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars (Saint Louis): Correa has yet to rejoin the team after taking a personal leave before the team’s Week 15 game. On Sunday, the Jaguars lost 41-17 to the Chicago Bears, dropping to 1-14 to clinch the top pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, where they will presumably take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Ka’imi Fairbairn, kicker, Houston Texans (Punahou): Fairbairn made a 21-yard field goal and all four of his extra point attempts in a 37-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Alohi Gilman, safety, Los Angeles Chargers (Kahuku): Gilman recorded one tackle in a 19-16 win over the Denver Broncos.

Kamu Grugier-Hill, linebacker, Miami Dolphins (Kamehameha): Grugier-Hill had one tackle in a 26-25 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Nate Herbig, guard, Philadelphia Eagles (Saint Louis): Herbig started at right guard for the Eagles in a 37-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Hercules Mata’afa, defensive tackle, Minnesota Vikings (Lahainaluna): Mata’afa had four tackles (two solo) in a 52-33 Christmas Day loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Netane Muti, guard, Denver Broncos (Leilehua): Muti was active in a 19-16 win loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Rigoberto Sanchez, punter, Colts (University of Hawaii): Sanchez punted five times for a total of 212 yards in a 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Isaac Seumalo, offensive lineman, Philadelphia Eagles (born in Hawaii): Seumalo started at left guard in a 37-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Jahlani Tavai, linebacker, Detroit Lions (University of Hawaii): Tavai had five tackles (three solo) in a 47-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Injured reserve 

Keith Kirkwood, receiver, Carolina Panthers (University of Hawaii)

COVID-19 reserve 

Leo Koloamatangi, offensive lineman, New York Jets (University of Hawaii) 

Practice squad 

Trevor Davis, receiver, Washington Football Team (University of Hawaii)

Breiden Fehoko, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Chargers (Farrington)

Marcus Kemp, receiver, Miami Dolphins (University of Hawaii)

Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback, Detroit Lions (Pearl City)

Manti Te’o, linebacker, Chicago Bears (Punahou)

John Ursua, receiver, Seattle Seahawks (University of Hawaii)

JoJo Ward, receiver, Arizona Cardinals (University of Hawaii)

Notes: Trayvon Henderson was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday after appearing in four games this season. He did not record any statistics.

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