NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways: Tua Tagovailoa has impressive performance in Dolphins victory

Written by on August 22, 2021

Week 2 of the NFL preseason is in full swing with the majority of the league squaring off Saturday. Many teams conducted joint practices this week, which isn’t a good sign for first-team players taking the field — although some teams decided to play starters.

Tua Tagovailoa was the most notable starting quarterback to see the field Saturday night, performing well for a Miami Dolphins offense missing Will Fuller, DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson. Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to touchdowns on his first two possessions in Miami’s 37-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Eight games are in action Saturday night, so there’s plenty of highlights to go around. If you missed any of the previous games during Week 2 of the preseason, you can check out our takeaways here:

Patriots 35, Eagles 0 (takeaways)

Chiefs 17, Cardinals 10 (takeaways)
Washington 17, Bengals 13 (takeaways)

Saturday early games
Bills 41, Bears 15 (takeaways)
Jets 23, Packers 14 (takeaways)

And here’s a look at what stood out from each of Saturday’s eight night games on the Week 2 preseason slate:

The Ravens matched the NFL record with their 19th straight preseason victory, despite starting their third-string quarterback. 

Tyler Huntley got the start for Lamar Jackson in this one (backup quarterback Trace McSorley is out with a back injury). Huntley went 24 of 34 for 187 yards with an interception — taking all the snaps. Undrafted rookie Nate McCrary led the Ravens with 15 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown — a 2-yard score that put Baltimore up for good with 7:46 left in the third quarter. The Ravens finished with 167 rushing yards — all without their top two running backs not playing. 

Sam Darnold saw his first action for the Panthers, going 1-for-2 for 16 yards on the opening series before exiting the game. Backup P.J. Walker threw just two passes before exiting the game as well. Rookie Terrace Marshall led Carolina with three catches for 50 yards and Chuba Hubbard finished with 53 total yards of offense. 

Tua Tagovailoa had a dominant first half for the Dolphins in his first significant action of the preseason. Tagovailoa played the entire first half, leading the Dolphins to touchdowns on their first two possessions — completing all eight of his passes in the first quarter. 

Myles Gaskin scored two touchdowns for Miami — a 1-yard run and an 8-yard reception from Tagovailoa to give the Dolphins a 14-0 lead. Tagovailoa was 16 of 23 for 183 yards, finishing with a 107.7 passer rating. Mack Hollins led Miami with four catches for 49 yards. 

Jacoby Brissett relieved Tagovailoa and finished 8 of 8 for 97 yards and a touchdown. Malcolm Brown finished with 10 carries for 43 yards and a score. 

Matt Ryan did not start for the Falcons in this one, along with the majority of the first-team offense. AJ McCarron went 3-for-6 for 43 yards before exiting the game in the second quarter with a non-contact right knee injury. Falcons coach Arthur Smith said McCarron is “heartbroken” and will undergo an MRI. Undrafted rookie Caleb Huntley led the Falcons with six carries for 57 yards and a score. 

Ben Roethlisberger was more than impressive in the first half for the Steelers, throwing two touchdown passes to Pat Freiermuth to lead Pittsburgh to the win. Freiermuth, a second-round pick in this year’s draft, caught both his scores in the red zone — establishing himself as a vital part of the goal-line offense this preseason. 

Roethlisberger finished 8 of 10 for 137 yards and two touchdowns — a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Najee Harris had two catches for 53 yards for Pittsburgh, also finishing with four carries for 10 yards. 

Mason Rudolph started the second half for the Steelers, finishing 13 of 18 for 138 yards. Dwayne Haskins went 4 of 7 for 56 yards as the third-team quarterback. 

The Lions did not start Jared Goff and many other first-teamers. Third-string quarterback David Blough injected life into the Lions offense, leading them to 20 points in the fourth quarter. Blough finished 12 of 17 for 143 yards and a touchdown — a 10-yard pass to Javon McKinley late in the fourth quarter. 

Craig Reynolds, who signed with the Lions nine days ago, scored his second rushing touchdown in as many preseason games.  

Thanks to the joint practices this week, Ryan Tannehill and Tom Brady sat out this one. The Titans reserves got the better of the Buccaneers reserves in this preseason contest. 

Matt Barkley led Tennessee, going 12 of 16 for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Mekhi Sargent led the Titans with 16 carries for 78 yards — also catching his lone target for a score. Tennessee held Tampa Bay to 207 yards. 

Kyle Trask finished 13 of 26 for 131 yards and two interceptions for Tampa Bay. Tanner Hudson finished with six catches for 74 yards. 

Davis Mills led the Texans with 115 yards passing in the victory, playing the majority of the snaps in relief of Tyrod Taylor. Mark Ingram finished with seven carries for 24 yards and a score while Chris Moore finished with two catches for 33 yards. Houston outscored Dallas 13-0 in the second half. 

Garrett Gilbert earned the start for the Cowboys, playing two series before giving way to Cooper Rush. Rush had an impressive performance, finishing 10 of 12 for 97 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas — one to Cedrick Wilson and one to Tony Pollard. Dallas had 14 different players catch a pass in the loss. 

Neither Indianapolis nor Minnesota scored an offensive touchdown in this one, with the lone touchdown being scored on a 33-yard interception return by linebacker Troy Dye. Kirk Cousins finished 5 of 7 for 23 yards, playing two series before Jake Browning took over. Ameer Abdullah led Minnesota with six carries for 35 yards. 

Sam Ehlinger started for the Colts, finishing 8 of 13 for 70 yards and two interceptions. Jacob Eason went 16 of 27 for 132 yards, relieving Ehlinger after the first quarter and playing the rest of the game. 

Nathan Peterman was the starting quarterback for Vegas in this one, tossing the game-winning 29-yard TD to Marcell Ateman along with two interceptions and leading the Raiders with 36 yards rushing. Bryce Perkins started for the Rams, tossing two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder to Jacob Harris with 15 seconds remaining. The Rams went for two to win it and failed. Both teams did not play their regulars.

Jake Funk led the Rams with seven carries for 56 yards while Xavier Jones had seven carries for 29 yards. The Rams are still seeking a No. 2 running back behind Darrell Henderson, as Jones, Funk, and Raymond Calais (three carries for 5 yards) are the main candidates. 

Teddy Bridgewater got the start for Denver in this one, finishing 9 of 11 for 105 yards and a touchdown in two series. Bridgewater appears to have the upper hand on the Broncos starting quarterback job, leading Denver to scores on both of his possessions. 

Lock played until the end of the third quarter, going 9 of 14 for 80 yards. Denver scored on three of Lock’s five possessions, but all were field goals. Lock’s lone red zone trip resulted in a field goal by Brandon McManus, who converted all three of his attempts. 

Seattle didn’t start its regulars on offense. Rashaad Penny finished with five carries for 8 yards. 


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