Three Takeaways: Dolphins Outduel Chargers in 36-34 Shootout

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The Dolphins are out to a 1-0 start for the third consecutive year thanks to a dominant showing on offense and a clutch effort from the defense. Records were set, celebrations were had and the Dolphins return to South Florida with an important win over one of the league’s most talented clubs in the Los Angeles Chargers. 

For more on the Miami Dolphins big Week 1 victory, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield is the Miami Dolphins Podcast Network’s home for in-depth analysis and coverage of your team.

Here are the three takeaways from the Dolphins’ exhilarating 36-34 win in L.A.

1. Tua and Tyreek Continue to Rewrite the Record Books

Only in an organization with the most prolific passer of all time does a 466-yard performance rank just fifth for a single-game showing. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa etched his name in Miami’s top-five passing days for the second time in just his 35th career start. Tagovailoa ranks fourth and fifth with his 469- (at Baltimore in 2022) and 466-yard passing displays behind only Dan Marino’s 521-, 473- and 470-yard games. While throwing for the fourth-most yards in a season-opener in NFL history, Tagovailoa put the ball in the end zone three times, including two to his leading receiver, Tyreek Hill.

The second-year Miami wide receiver’s encore for his franchise record 1,703 receiving yards in 2022 was even better. With 215 yards on 11 receptions and two touchdowns, including the game winner, Hill became the third player ever with three-plus games of 200-plus receiving yards and multiple touchdowns (Charlie Hennigan and Don Hutson).

@tua ➡️ @cheetah

: #MIAvsLAC on @NFLonCBS

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 10, 2023

The performance from the Dolphins quarterback is turning the staunchest of non-believers into subscribers of what Coach Mike McDaniel is selling. Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr penned an apology to the Miami signal caller. For Coach, well, he knew it all along:

“With that relentless approach and that consistent understanding of who you have to be on a day-to-day basis if you want to be a big-time quarterback on a big-time team,” McDaniel said of his QB. “The cost is real, and I want him to keep paying that cost at whatever comes across his plate. He’s as coachable as any player I’ve ever been around in my life.”

2. Offensive Line Pitches a Shutout

Without All-Pro left tackle Terron Armstead out of the lineup, an-oft disparaged Dolphins offensive line sent a message to the pundits with a dominant day. Protecting Tagovailoa for 45 drop backs, Miami kept Tagovailoa comfortable to the tune of zero sacks and just two quarterback hits.

The two tackles, Kendall Lamm and Austin Jackson, drew a pair of former All-Pros in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, and held their own.

3. Coffee is for Closers

Allowing 234 yards on the ground gives the Miami defense plenty to correct ahead of the Week 2 trip to Foxboro. But when it mattered most, the Dolphins D made the biggest play of the game. The Chargers took the football back with a minute and 45 seconds to play, two timeouts, and needing roughly 35 yards to give Cameron Dicker a realistic shot at a game-winning field goal.

Not so fast, my friend.

Miami dialed up pressure to shut down a Chargers offense that finally had to play one-dimensional ball. Cornerback Justin Bethel’s pressure forced quarterback Justin Herbert into an errant throw, resulting in intentional grounding. On second down, defensive tackle Zach Sieler brought Herbert down for a sack. Then two plays later, on fourth-and-13, Bethel came again and met with outside linebacker Jaelen Phillips at the quarterback to put the game on ice.

“We’ve got each others back.”

Go inside the locker room after the week one win.

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 11, 2023

Good morning #FinsUp

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 11, 2023

For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, check out the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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