Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Wednesday that he was unconscious at some point after he exited Week 4 with a scary head injury.
Tagovailoa was carted off the field following a big tackle by Cincinnati defensive lineman Josh Tupou before being taken to a local hospital. Tagovailoa flew home with the team that night but missed the next two games with a concussion.
"There was a point where I was unconscious so I couldn’t really tell what was going on," Tagovailoa said Wednesday, speaking with reporters for the first time since the injury. "... Yeah, I remember the entire night up until the point I got tackled. After I got tackled, I don't remember much from there. Getting carted off, I don't remember that. But I do remember things that were going on when I was in the ambulance and when I arrived at the hospital."
That's a striking admission from Tagovailoa, who is only now set to start Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers after he cleared the league's protocols this past Saturday. He was seen throwing passes at the start of Dolphins practice on Wednesday and by all accounts will be the team's quarterback on Sunday night.
But over the past two weeks, Tagovailoa re-ignited the conversation around concussions after he appeared to suffer a head injury in consecutive games.
More than a dozen players were taken out of Week 4's Sunday slate of games with concussions following Tagovailoa's exit. The NFLPA had already opened up an investigation and fired the independent doctor who allowed Tagovailoa to return to the Dolphins' Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills after Tagovailoa originally left the game in the second half with what the team later described as a back injury. Tagovailoa cleared the concussion protocol five days later and played on Thursday night against the Bengals before the collision forced him out of the game on a stretcher.
Now healthy and ready to play, Tagovailoa could pull the Dolphins out of their three-game losing streak. Miami averaged 27.66 points per game during their 3-0 start to the season but scored just 16 points per game over their last three losses. The Dolphins turned to Teddy Bridgewater and seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson in Tagovailoa's absence, but neither found much offense during the team's three losses and both suffered injuries themselves.
But Tagovailoa won't say the transition back to him as the starter will immediately lead to success.
"I'm not the savior of this team," Tagovailoa said. "I don't just come in and we start winning games. It's a team deal. ... For me, I just look at it as coming in this week and being myself."
He'll be going against a familiar face in former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who's now a defensive assistant under Mike Tomlin. Tagovailoa didn't comment specifically about Flores, who is in the midst of a lawsuit against the Dolphins, the NFL and a few other clubs, but noted "it'll be cool being able to go up against the guy he's coaching on that side" before praising the Steelers' defense.