How will Tua Tagovailoa perform in high-stakes, primetime national TV game?

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Tua Tagovailoa has always demonstrated a calm, even-keeled, composed approach to playing, including in critical games.

The biggest game of Tagovailoa's young NFL career will come on Monday night, when the Dolphins play at the Saints.

"For me it's just making sure that I'm prepared," Tagovailoa said Wednesday. "Whether it's looking over the game plan again. Really going over my third downs. And for me I feel that's what brings confidence."

So, no, Tagovailoa doesn't employ any special relaxation methodology. No meditation. No breathing exercises. No visualization techniques.

"At the end of the day it's football," Tagovailoa said. "Whether it's prime time or it's not. You have to go out and you have to perform at the best of your ability."

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Dolphins coach Brian Flores wants Tagovailoa to approach Monday night like any other game. Even though it isn't, of course.

"Preparation stays the same," Flores said.

The most famed moment of Tagovailoa's football career came on a national stage. Tagovailoa came off the bench as a true freshman and tossed a touchdown in overtime to DeVonta Smith, clinching an Alabama national championship.

In the embryonic stage of his NFL career, his performance in big games - whether on primetime or national television - has been mixed.

Here's a look at Tua's action in prime time games, nationally televised games and the season-finale that ended Miami's season in 2020:

• Nov. 11, 2021 vs. Ravens (ND, Dolphins win, 22-10) — Tua gets a no-decision because Jacoby Brissett started. Tua was 8-for-13 with a 104.0 quarterback rating.

• Oct. 17, 2021 vs. Jaguars in London (L, Dolphins lose, 23-20) — Tua passes for 329 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT. But Dolphins stunned in upset.

• Jan. 3, 2021 at Bills (L, Dolphins lose, 56-27) — Not on national TV or primetime, but the Dolphins need a win to qualify for playoffs and flop. Tua 1 TD and 3 INTs.

• Dec. 26, 2020 at Raiders (W, Dolphins win, 26-25) — Tua is credited with a win because he started, but Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the victory in dramatic fashion. Tua 1 TD, 0 INT, but only 94 passing yards.

In Tua's last outing, the Dolphins beat the Jets despite two interceptions by Tua.

"We always want to be smart with the football," Flores said. "And be accurate with the football. No one is tougher on (Tua) than he is. How important that stat is."

Tagovailoa conceded it will be "pretty cool" to play on "Monday Night Football." He also acknowledged playing on the road in New Orleans may be challenging.

"We've been working on communication and crowd noise," Tagovailoa said. "We understand it's going to be very hostile. We have to give ourselves as much time as possible."

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is seen on the field during pre-game warm-ups prior to the start of the NFL game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, on December 19, 2021.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is seen on the field during pre-game warm-ups prior to the start of the NFL game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, on December 19, 2021.

Tagovailoa, still only 23 years old, said he wants to limit costly mistakes. And he's also working to perfect his decision-making in the run-pass option game. There have been some instances where he feels he should have handed off.

Everyone has an opinion about what Tagovailoa is, can be, or never will be.

Monday night is an outstanding opportunity for Tua to steer the narrative about how he can deliver in a high-stakes, nationally-televised, road NFL game.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Tua Tagovailoa of Miami Dolphins takes national stage at Saints Monday

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