Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field after suffering a head injury in Thursday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, bringing into question how he was cleared to play in the first place after having what appeared to be a head injury four days ago, but was later ruled a back injury. While Tagovailoa did come back Sunday, here's how he was cleared to return to play play:
On Sunday, the Dolphins team physician in consultation with the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant determined Tua's gross motor instability was not neurologically caused but instead a result of a back injury. The NFLPA initiated a review immediately following the game. https://t.co/bBaiHkXmzu— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) September 30, 2022
Tagovailoa was listed as having a back injury on the injury report all week and was listed as questionable for the game. With his injury Thursday, Tagovailoa actually landed on his back first before his head hit the ground. No back injuries were announced by the Dolphins.
Tagovailoa briefly left the game Sunday after taking a hard head shot on the field after being pushed late by Bills linebacker Matt Milano. He returned to the game for the start of the second half after initially being labeled as questionable to return with a head injury.
It was also reported during the game that Tagovailoa may have suffered a lower back injury on the play, and not an injury to his head. In any event, Tagovailoa only missed two plays during Sunday's game. He finished the game with 186 yards on 13 of 18 passing that included key second-half completions of 32 and 45 yards to Jaylen Waddle on Miami's game-winning drive.
"I'm doing good," Tagovailoa told CBS Sports after the game when asked about his injuries. "We'll go get those checked, but for the most part, it feels good, especially after a win."
After the game, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel confirmed reports that Tagovailoa was experiencing back pain during the game. Still, Tagovailoa played and helped the Dolphins improve to 3-0 and move into first place in the AFC East.
"It shows how gutsy he is, how tough is," McDaniel said of his quarterback.