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Scoring the Dolphins’ 23-17 loss to the Chargers; more stock in stock, stock down – The Denver Post

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The Miami Dolphins turned cold as the schedule cooled.

Things that worked during a five-game winning streak backfired in back-to-back road losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers.

It’s only getting more complicated now for Miami (8-5), taking on the division-leading Bills in potentially snowy Buffalo on a short week for a Saturday night game after returning to South Florida early Monday morning after traveling coast to coast.

Here’s how the Sun Sentinel ranks the Dolphins in several areas of Sunday night’s 23-17 loss to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium:

Passing game: F

It was thought to be a shootout with Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Chargers signalman Justin Herbert. Tagovailoa fell short of his end of the bargain in a putrid performance of 10 of 28 for 145 yards.

It made for back-to-back bad outings for the third-year quarterback where there were misfires, miscommunication between him and his receivers, and pass catchers that otherwise don’t create separation. After the 49ers frustrated Miami’s passing offense with poor coverage, the Chargers, who had five starters on defense, played man defense and pressed while taking the midfield.

Tyreek Hill got his 60-yard touchdown beating Michael Davis from deep, but he had falls and a deep pass down the middle where he couldn’t find Tagovailoa’s throw, which was off target anyway. Jaylen Waddle was a non-factor with two catches on four targets.

Racing Game: C

Raheem Mostert got most of the work, with 11 carries for 37 yards. Jeff Wilson left the game with a hip injury after four carries for 26 yards – 20 on his long run – and he also fumbled on a play that worked to Miami’s advantage when Hill picked it up to score by himself. Tagovailoa also scrambled for 28 yards.

The racing game was very good. It wasn’t a game-changer either way, and it certainly didn’t help the Dolphins in the possession battle they lost, 39:38-20:22.

Defend the pass 😀

In a complete game for Chargers receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams playing together after just 46 snaps with each other this season, they each had big games. Allen went for 92 yards on 12 receptions. while Williams had 116 on six receptions, including an impressive touchdown in the back of the end zone and a deep ball where he beat cornerback Xavien Howard for 55 yards.

Herbert was firing on all cylinders and finished 39 of 51 for 367 yards and the touchdown. He made all the tough throws that were asked of him and even some smart checks to Austin Ekeler, who had eight catches for 59 yards. Miami’s only saving grace was the pass rush on Herbert, sacking him four times, one each for Jaelan Phillips, Christian Wilkins, Jerome Baker and Eric Rowe. Phillips was stripped of another on what was a very poor passer-roughing penalty.

Defend the race: B

In the running game, Ekeler was mostly kept in check, going for 45 yards on 15 attempts (3 yards per carry). Joshua Kelley was allowed off for a 22-yard run at one point. Wilkins had a dominant streak in the first half where he couldn’t be blocked. Baker had 11 tackles. Rowe provided solid support from the safe position with eight tackles before leaving with a hamstring injury.

Special teams: B

Kicker Jason Sanders made his only late field goal attempt at 55 yards to keep the Dolphins alive for one more play, an inbounds kick that Miami nearly recovered. Elijah Campbell, before being thrust into 31 defensive snaps for the injured Rowe, made the big hit on Chargers returning DeAndre Carter on Thomas Morstead’s opening punt. The Dolphins punter averaged 46.7 yards on seven punts with four landings inside 20.

Training: D

Mike McDaniel’s offense, aside from a few big plays, has been thwarted for two straight games. And, schematically, there were major differences in how the 49ers and Chargers did it, so it’s not like all he had to do was find adjustments to a key switch what the adversaries had done. There are several ways to stop dolphins right now.

Defensively, Miami did a decent job of keeping Los Angeles’ powerful offense from slipping away, but the Chargers controlled the night in possession for two-thirds of the game. And we need to address the lineup with eight defenders at or near the goal line on third and goal from the 17-yard line, which allowed the Chargers to reach 1 on a screen and hit it from one yard with 18 seconds left in first half. The difference of 4 points between a touchdown and a basket changes the whole flow of the game for the rest of the way.

Refuel: Tyreek Hill

Even Hill had his mistakes in a game where not much went right, but he was responsible for the Dolphins’ two touchdowns. He is unquestionably the MVP of this team. Now opponents even have to know where he is on the Dolphins’ fumbles. Hill broke Mark Clayton’s franchise record for receiving yards in a season, now standing at 1,460 on 100 receptions.

Wilkins is also worth mentioning, especially with his unblockability early in Sunday’s game, but his stock was already up from last week.

Out of Stock: Tua Tagovailoa

There is no way around this. He has to be better and show that his hot stretch leading up to those struggles was no fluke. Right now, the Dolphins quarterback is in a position where no one expects him to bounce back against the Bills in what could be very tough passing conditions. He will have a chance to turn things around if he can deliver.

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