Tua Tagovailoa may not be putting up video game numbers for the Miami Dolphins but he’s been extremely efficient while winning four of his five starts and has Miami right in the thick of the AFC playoff race as the Dolphins look to make their first postseason appearance since 2016. Following the Dolphins’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Miami (8-4) currently sits in the sixth spot in the AFC playoff picture with four games remaining on the schedule, including a season-ending matchup with the Buffalo Bills that could very well decide the AFC East.
Tua Tagovailoa, back in the lineup on Sunday after missing the Dolphins’ Week 12 win over the lowly New York Jets with a thumb injury, played another solid game in the victory over the Bengals and even made a little NFL history in the process. In addition to the history he made on his own, Tagovailoa was also a part of a fun piece of combined history that also involves his former teammate at the University of Alabama, Jalen Hurts, who saw the most playing time of his rookie season on Sunday for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Tua Tagovailoa became the only NFL rookie QB in history to throw at least one TD and no interceptions in his first five starts
In the Miami Dolphins’ 19-7 win over the Bengals on Sunday, a game marred by a fourth-quarter brawl that ended with numerous players getting ejected, Tua Tagovailoa completed 26 of 39 passes for 296 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. His lone touchdown pass of the day came in the third quarter when he hit Mike Gesicki in the end zone for a six-yard score to give the Dolphins a 13-7 lead, a lead they obviously never relinquished.
As mentioned, Tua didn’t throw a single interception against the Bengals on Sunday and actually hasn’t thrown a single pick in the NFL yet. As soon as the clock hit zero on Sunday, Tagovailoa became the only rookie quarterback in NFL history, and just the second quarterback in the Super Bowl era, to throw at least one touchdown pass and zero interceptions in his first five career starts.
The only other quarterback to accomplish such a feat was Jeff Kemp, who did so for the LA Rams back in 1984. But was that Kemp’s third year in the NFL and he’d played in five games for LA over the course of his first two seasons.
Now, before we get to that piece of combined history that involves Jalen Hurts, let’s take a quick look back on the history between those two.
Jalen Hurts lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama
As a true freshman at the University of Alabama in 2016, Jalen Hurts took over as the starting quarterback of the Crimson Tide in Week 2, becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Alabama in 32 years. He set numerous records for the Crimson Tide and led the team to the national title game, which Alabama lost to Clemson, 35-31.
In 2017, freshman Tua Tagovailoa was the backup to Hurts in Tuscaloosa and saw plenty of playing time given the fact that Hurts engineered quite a few blowouts. Alabama again went to the national title game, this time facing Georgia, but Jalen Hurts was benched at halftime in favor of Tua, who led the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 overtime victory and was named Offensive MVP.
The two battled for the starting spot in 2018, a competition that was won by Tagovailoa, although Hurts did see plenty of playing time during the year. But Tua had a phenomenal year, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Kyler Murray, which prompted Jalen Hurts to transfer to the University of Oklahoma for his final year of eligibility.
Hurts had a great year for the Sooners, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Joe Burrow and leading Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. Tua Tagovailoa was having another solid season for Alabama but saw his year come to an early end when he suffered a dislocated hip late in the season.
Despite the injury, Tua declared for the NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility, and was taken with the fifth overall pick by the Miami Dolphins. Hurts was taken in the second round with the 53rd overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The duo became the first pair of former Alabama QBs to throw NFL TD passes on the same day since 1983
So we’ve already covered what Tua Tagovailoa did on Sunday and what he’s done for the Miami Dolphins since taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick back in October. As for Jalen Hurts, it seems that he may now also become a starting quarterback in the NFL as he took over for Carson Wentz with the Eagles on Sunday in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
If he does remain the starter in Philly, Hurts won’t be matching the aforementioned rookie record set by Tua on Sunday as he threw an interception against Green Bay. But Hurts also threw a touchdown pass (his first in the NFL), a beautiful 32-yard toss to Greg Ward.
With that score, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa became the first pair of former Alabama quarterbacks to throw NFL touchdown passes on the same day in more than 37 years. On November 21, 1983, the New Orleans Saints took on the New York Jets, a game that featured two former Alabama quarterbacks.
Ken Stabler, who won a national championship with the Crimson Tide in 1965, threw one touchdown pass for the Saints while Richard Todd, who was the last Alabama quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL draft (1976) before Tua Tagovailoa, threw one touchdown for the Jets, who came away with a 31-28 win.
Assuming Jalen Hurts keeps the starting job with the Eagles, this will be a much more common occurrence.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference