By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries after being thrown to the ground Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals and was stretched off the field.
The Dolphins said Tagovailoa was conscious, had movement in all his limbs and was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further evaluation.
Tagovailoa was hounded and sacked by the 6-foot-3, 340-pound Josh Tupou with about six minutes left in the first half. They turned him over and threw him on the grass. As he lay on the ground, his hands froze in front of his face. He remained on the ground for more than seven minutes before he was loaded onto a backboard, stabilized and strapped to a stretcher after his face mask was removed.
Dolphins players gathered as Tagovailoa was carried off the field and the crowd chanted “Tua! You!”
The Bengals beat the Dolphins 27-15.
The reaction came quickly throughout the NFL. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson were quick to tweet with concern for Tagovailoa’s well-being.
“Praying for you Tua,” Wilson wrote.
Tagovailoa, 24, suffered from back pain and was listed as questionable for most of the week before the game.
Tagovailoa briefly left Sunday’s 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills after appearing disoriented from what the team originally said was a head injury after he was hit hard by Bills linebacker Matt Milano late in the game. The first half. He missed only three snaps and returned after halftime, a decision that prompted a joint review by the NFL and the National Football League Players Association of what went into the decision to allow him to return to the game. .
The team and Tagovailoa said after the game that the quarterback had a back injury that caused his clumsy trip and fall after he was hit into the turf in the second quarter. The team said Monday that Tagovailoa was not on the concussion protocol.
He said he “hyper-extended” his back after someone pinned his legs under a quarterback.
Following Tagovailoa’s injury Thursday, the NFLPA tweeted: “Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission. Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a speedy and full recovery. Our investigation into the possible protocol violation is ongoing.”
Some criticized the decision to play Tagovailoa so soon after his injuries in Sunday’s game.
Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeted: “That’s a serious injury. Tua shouldn’t have been there with the trade on Sunday Thursday. Sometimes players need to protect themselves. The Dolphins let Tua down.”
Before leaving Thursday’s game, Tagovailoa was 8 of 14 for 100 yards and an interception. He was replaced in the game by Teddy Bridgewater, who threw a touchdown pass to Chase Edmonds with 15 seconds remaining in the half.
The game of Tagovailoa, who won a national championship in Alabama, has been key for the 3-0 Dolphins. He entered the game second in the NFL with 925 passing yards.
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