Aaron Donald welcomes Tua Tagovailoa to NFL, strip sacks him on rookie's first pass as starter

Frank Schwab
·1-min read

Tua Tagovailoa didn’t see anyone like Aaron Donald in college, even in the SEC.

The Miami Dolphins gave the fifth pick of the draft the starting job over their bye week, and one drawback was having to go against Donald, the best defensive player in the NFL. On Tagovailoa’s first dropback as a starter in the NFL, Donald got pressure and punched the ball out of Tagovailoa’s left hand as he wound up to throw. The Rams recovered the fumble and Robert Woods scored a touchdown a few plays later.

Tagovailoa did bounce back. He threw his first NFL touchdown pass later in the first quarter. He hit DeVante Parker over the middle for a 3-yard score, and Parker held on despite being interfered with as he caught it.

Tagovailoa threw two passes in garbage time two weeks ago in his NFL debut. That gave him a taste of the NFL but nothing like making his first start. Tagovailoa was a star at Alabama and might be in the NFL too, but he was taught a good lesson by Donald right away in his first start.

The NFL is a different challenge than he has ever faced.

Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) goes after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Tagovailoa fumbled the ball. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Tua Tagovailoa got off to a rough start in his first game as the Dolphins' starter. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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