But once the pads were on and the lights went up on Thursday, the matchup was all Fitzpatrick.
The 37-year-old Miami Dolphins quarterback got off to a career-best passing start and finished things off on the ground in a 31-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He tallied three scores and thoroughly outplayed his Jaguars counterpart under center.
Nearly perfect night for Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick connected on his first 12 pass attempts, besting his previous streak to start a game by four completions. The Dolphins scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives and carried a 21-7 lead into halftime. Two of those scores arrived via Fitzpatrick passes.
Fitzpatrick added a rushing touchdown on a third-quarter quarterback draw to extend the lead to 28-7. It was the good version of Fitzpatrick, who was seen smiling throughout the night as he tacked on another win to his never-boring career.
He completed 18 of 20 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He added seven rushes for 38 yards and a score on the ground. He did not turn the ball over. The 90 percent completion rate was a franchise record for a Dolphins quarterback who threw at least 20 pass attempts.
Not even Dan Marino was ever this accurate in a Dolphins uniform.
Fitzpatrick joins Sweetness in record book
And thanks to this pass that was batted back into his hands for the third catch of his career, Fitzpatrick joins elite company.
That is the 3rd catch of Ryan Fitzpatrick's career.— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) September 25, 2020
3 catches for -3 yards, but that was his first catch since 2013. https://t.co/BWPHzocTp6
According to NFL research, Fitzpatrick is the second player since 1948 to tally two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, 20 yards on the ground and a catch. Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was the other in a 1983 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Rough night for Gardner Minshew
Minshew, meanwhile, struggled to get a previously hot Jaguars offense going against an aggressive Dolphins pass rush that kept him under pressure for much of the night. Jacksonville got another big game out of running back James Robinson, but saw little else from an offense that entered Thursday averaging 28.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the season.
The Jaguars ruled out Pro Bowl receiver D.J. Chark before kickoff with chest and back issues. He was clearly missed as the Jaguars struggled to get anything going downfield. Minshew finished with 275 yards on 30 of 42 passes as Jacksonville spent most of the game playing catchup. He threw an interception, lost a costly fumble near the Jacksonville goal line and failed to find the end zone.
Do Jags have their running back?
The lone bright spot was Robinson, who tallied 46 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground while adding six catches for 83 yards.
It was another strong performance from the undrafted rookie who has taken the bulk of Jacksonville’s rushing duties after the preseason release of Leonard Fournette.
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