Under the bright lights of sunny Southern California, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played arguably his worst game of the 2022 season as Miami was beaten 23-17 by the Los Angeles Chargers. With the regular season winding down, and Miami clinging to the second Wild Card spot in the AFC, Tagovailoa's job gets much harder in Week 15, and it isn't just about the opponent.
The Dolphins play the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Saturday with the conditions working massively in Buffalo's favor. According to Weather.com, Saturday's forecast calls a 75 percent chance of precipitation, with a low of 26 degrees and 14 MPH winds to the southwest. Snowy and windy conditions which, on the surface, the Dolphins and their Hawaii-born quarterback would seem ill-suited to adapting to.
During his Wednesday media availability, Tagovailoa did his best to downplay the significance of the weather in Buffalo, seemingly bristling at continued questions about the snow while pointing out that he's had to adapt to such conditions before even while playing college football in the south at Alabama.
"It snowed in Alabama my first year. So it snows in Alabama, guys," Tagovailoa said told reporters. "People don't know that. Some people just think it gets cold, but it does snow."
While snow is rarer in Alabama than other parts of the southeast, it's far from unheard of. According to Southern Living, cities in the central part of the state like Birmingham and Tuscaloosa tend to get less than an inch of snow every winter, with snowfall being much more likely to the north cities like Huntsville and Florence. But that's a minuscule amount compared to Western New York, which was pounded by more than six feet of snow last month.
It should also be noted that three of Tagovailoa's worst statistical games -- including a Week 17 blowout loss in Buffalo that eliminated the Dolphins from the playoffs -- all came in cold weather. Which means Tagovailoa faces an extra burden to prove that Orchard Park's frigid temperatures and soft stuff won't stop him.
"It's a mindset thing," Tagovailoa said. "If I'm too focused and worried about if it's too cold, can I grab the ball, can I not, then I would say I'm focused on the wrong things. It would be hard to play that way going over there against a really good team."
The Dolphins have already proven that they can beat the AFC East-leading Bills. Miami defended their home turf against Buffalo with a 21-19 win in Week 3, but that game came in slightly different weather conditions -- 90 degree temperatures with 54 percent humidity.