Miami Dolphins lost Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals27-15, but the bigger concern is the loss of quarterback Tua Tagavailoa to head and neck injuries.

Tagovailoa was carried off the field on a stretcher in the second quarter at Paycor Stadium. The third-year player was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game with head and neck injuries. The Amazon Prime Video broadcast said Tagavailoa was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Facilities.

“Tua Tagavailoa was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation,” the Dolphins said in a statement. “He is conscious, all his limbs are moving.”

At the conclusion of the game, Amazon also reported that Tagavailoa was expected to be released from the hospital and return to South Florida with the team.

Tagovailoa, already playing through back and ankle injuries, was thrown to the turf on a sack by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou.

Tagovailoa landed on his sore back during a brutal blow and the back of his head hit the ground hard from the whip. Tagovailoa appeared to lie motionless as he was tended to on the field for several minutes before being taken away on a stretcher. He lay on the ground with his hands up, his left index finger stuck in an awkward inward position, as the game’s broadcast cameras caught it.

“We’ve all played a lot of football, but this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen,” said Amazon analyst Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was Tagovailoa’s teammate during his rookie season in Miami in 2020. Fitzpatrick added that he spoke with Tagovailoa on Wednesday night and it was the happiest he had ever seen him.

Tagovailoa entered Thursday as questionable after dealing with back and ankle injuries he suffered in Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills that kept him out and back for the game at Hard Rock Stadium. He was also initially believed to have suffered a head injury against Buffalo before it was revealed that he only had back and ankle issues.

The NFL Players Association, which is investigating the procedures that allowed Tagovailoa to return for the second half against the Bills, released a statement Thursday night: “Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission. We are taking care of Tua today and hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential breach of protocol is ongoing.”

Tagovailoa was 8 of 14 for 110 yards and had an interception at the time of the injury. He looked sharp on several throws over the middle to open receivers Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle. He made another nice throw to tight end Mike Gesicki between four zone defenders. Tagovailoa’s interception came on a deep throw to Hill.

Backup Teddy Bridgewater replaced Tagovailoa for the Dolphins. He finished 14 of 23 for 193 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Hill had 160 receiving yards for Miami on 10 receptions.

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was 20 of 31 for 287 yards and two touchdowns.

In the fourth quarter, the Bengals regained the lead in Miami on a 43-yard pass from Barrow to Tyler Boyd that brought them to the Miami 10-yard line. They settled for 3 and took the lead after Andrew Van Ginkel hit Joe Mixon at the 1-yard line. Evan McPherson’s 57-yard field goal with just over six minutes left put the Bengals up 20-15.

Driving into Cincinnati territory, Bridgewater was intercepted by Bengals safety Vaughn Bell, who came up with his second of the night after Bridgewater missed a high Hesicki. Cincinnati put the score out of reach on a 2-yard pass from Borrow to tight end Hayden Hurst.

Bridgewater had earlier hit Hill with a 64-yard pass deep into the Bengals defense in the third quarter that led to a shorthanded Gould field goal with 2:40 left in the period. Miami led 15-14 going into the fourth.

Bridgewater went 6 of 7 for 71 yards and a touchdown to end the first half. He led a 9-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a short shovel pass that Chase Edmonds took for a 7-yard score after several tackles. The extra point that was scored afterwards did not remain upright.

It brought the Dolphins closer to the Bengals after earlier giving up a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Burrow to receiver Ty Higgins, who beat Miami cornerback Xavien Howard on the play.

The night began with the Dolphins allowing the Bengals to score quickly on a 9-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 5-yard run by Joe Mixon, where several Cincinnati offensive linemen came to him to push him over the goal line after , as he was beaten up beyond the yardage to gain a first down. Cornerback Keyon Crossen, who made his first start for the Dolphins on Thursday, was hit with a critical unnecessary roughness penalty on the series that sent the Bengals into the red zone.

Miami, meanwhile, drove the length of the field but settled for a short field goal on its opening drive after Edmonds threw what would have been a touchdown in the back of the end zone. Tagovailoa was 4-of-6 for 64 yards on the opening drive, looking sharp early on with his first two throws to Hill and Waddle open up the middle for gains of 26 and 20 yards.

Tagovailoa, who had been in action for most of the first quarter, made his first mistake when he threw Hill against two defenders deep as Hill stepped on them. Bell had an interception that ended up short and was completed late. Tagovailoa just made his spectacular 21-yard Hesicki toss between four defenders in the zone.

However, the Dolphins were safe and sound after the turnover when Eric Rowe made a big stop on fourth down against Mixon and Bengals coach Zach Taylor decided to go for it on fourth and 1, on the short side of the ball. field Dolphins sniffed. Miami kicked a field goal after turning Cincinnati over on a layup to cut its early deficit midway through the second quarter, 7-6.

After Thursday’s game, the Dolphins get an off-week that serves as a mini-bye week. They return in Week 5, at the New York Jets, on October 9.

This story will be updated.

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