Tua Tagovailoa dominated by Justin Herbert as Dolphins suffer frustrating loss to Chargers – The Denver Post
It was a night of prime-time frustration for the Miami Dolphins.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, amid all the constant comparisons to the Dolphins quarterback taken a pick ahead of him in 2020, played like he was in a different weight class than Tua Tagovailoa.
Behind Herbert’s stellar play and Tagovailoa’s inefficiency against a defense that lacked five starters, the Chargers won, 23-17, dominating in virtually every statistical category while the Dolphins still managed to keep the score tight Sunday night at SoFi Stadium.
“Football is a humbling game,” coach Mike McDaniel said. “These are things you have to learn as a team. Unfortunately, we had to learn it the hard way.
Miami (8-5) is losing consecutive games on the West Coast after also falling to the San Francisco 49ers last week. The Dolphins remain in sixth place in the AFC, but their lead in the standings for a wildcard spot is reduced to one game against the Chargers and New York Jets, who now own a tiebreaker over Miami.
Los Angeles (7-6) got back into the playoff picture at No. 7 with the Jets’ win and loss earlier Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins now trail the Bills by two games in the AFC East with a game in Buffalo coming up Saturday night.
Herbert made every throw, whether it was a deep ball to big target Mike Williams through his body on the opposite side of the field, a perfectly placed pass to the back of the end zone or from one of the many smart controls to the ball carrier. Austin Ekeler. He threw for 367 yards and a touchdown on 39 of 51 passes, methodically separating the Dolphins defense, though it didn’t result in many runs.
Tagovailoa, never in a rhythm, was a 10-of-28 pedestrian for 145 yards and a deep touchdown at Tyreek Hill. Los Angeles, despite missing safety Derwin James, cornerbacks JC Jackson and Bryce Callahan and rusher Joey Bosa, decided he would stick to his identity and play man cover against the tandem of Dolphins standout front desk consisting of Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and it worked.
“For us to go out there as an attack and show ourselves what we’ve shown is not at our level,” Tagovailoa said after struggling for a second game in a row. “That’s not how we play football here, and that was very disappointing.”
The Chargers beat the Dolphins, 432 yards to 219. They won time of possession, 39:38-20:22. They went 9 of 18 on third downs while Miami was 3 of 11.
Williams, who had played just six offensive snaps since Week 7, had six receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen went for 12 catches and 92 yards. Ekeler had 59 receiving yards, plus 45 rushing and one rushing score.
While Hill accounted for 81 receiving yards and two total touchdowns, Waddle was limited to two catches for 31 yards and was only targeted four times.
“I was just a little disappointed with the connection between [Tagovailoa] and some of the eligible [receivers]McDaniel said, while adding that there were also opportunities his quarterback missed and other instances where protection failed.
The Dolphins’ pass catchers themselves took some of the blame.
“Tua played well enough for us to win this game, and for me, I just have to make plays for him,” said Hill, who on a first occasion was crossing the court on a deep road where he seemed that he couldn’t. find the ball. “I felt like I had a lot of falls there that wouldn’t be counted and that would go against him, so I have to make plays for my boy.”
“I have to give credit to the Chargers and their defense and the way they played us,” Waddle said. “We have to go out there, make plays for [Tagovailoa].”
Leading 23-14, Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders made it a one-possession game with a 55-yard field goal with 1:10 remaining, but Miami couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick to stay urge.
The Chargers built a 10-point lead before halftime on a dodgy defensive play call on third and the 17-yard line. The Dolphins put eight defenders at or near the goal line in a stop-look, which allowed Ekeler to earn 16. He ran it one yard in the next play.
Miami came back under 3 when Hill burned Chargers cornerback Michael Davis, who went down to cover, for a 60-yard touchdown.
A pair of later field goals and a string of defensive saves secured Los Angeles’ two-possession advantage in the second half that ultimately held.
When so much went wrong for the Dolphins in the first half, Hill, on the night he broke the franchise record for receiving yards in a season, was electrified by a touchdown that didn’t fly through the air. .
The speedster recovered a fumble from teammate and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. and, with most of the 22 players on the field focused on a stack that had developed, Hill was able to weave around the crowd and blaze 57 yards in the end zone. The loose ball was returned to Hill by left tackle Terron Armstead in a pile.
“Once he dove in, he kind of threw the ball to me, and then I was able to make a play,” Hill said. “It looked like he was a bit [saw] me. He kind of tricked me.
The Chargers, after forcing a quick three-and-out to kick off Sunday’s action, went empty in their first practice that consumed 8:36 when cornerback Kader Kohou made a big save in the flat two meters from the goal line. on a fourth try. It set the tone for the night, however, that the Chargers would dominate possession time.
Los Angeles, entering Miami territory again in its second series, settled for a field goal early in the second quarter after a first-quarter sack from Christian Wilkins put the Chargers third-and-long.
Hill’s fumble return offensive touchdown came after three frustrating drives where Miami could only muster 5 yards. Meanwhile, Los Angeles had its initial 10-0 advantage with an impressive Herbert throw to Williams from behind the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. The Dolphins were beaten, 249-55, in the first half.
Hill broke the Dolphins single-season receiving yards record with his first reception on Sunday, a 13-yard reception in the first quarter. He needed 11 yards against the Chargers to pass Mark Clayton and his mark of 1,389 yards set in 1984.
Wilkins, Jerome Baker, Jaelan Phillips and Eric Rowe each had a bag. Phillips had another one that was called off due to a rude call from the setter that was questionable to say the least.
“[The official] just mentioned the whole bodyweight rule,” Phillips said. “He called him. It’s like that. We can’t do anything about it.
Wilson left Sunday’s game with a hip injury in the first half and did not return. Hill was announced to be suffering from an ankle condition but soon returned to action. Rowe suffered a hamstring injury.
The Dolphins have a quick return from the return trip to South Florida that will bring them home early Monday morning. They will face the division-leading Bills (10-3) in Buffalo on Saturday night.