By Tim Peterson
(Inglewood) – Miami Quarterback Tua Tagavailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns, with 215 of those yards and two touchdowns going to Tyreek Hill, to lead Miami to a 36-34 win over the Chargers Sunday before 70, 240 at SoFi Stadium in the 2023 season opener.
The last Tagovailoa to Hill connection was the dagger for the Chargers. The Dolphins were down 34-30 when Hill hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone to give Miami a 36-34 lead with 1:45 left.
The Chargers had one last shot but Justin Herbert was flagged for intentional grounding and then he was sacked on his own 23 on fourth down with 55 seconds left to end it.
There were seven lead changes in the game but the Dolphins were leading when the clock hit zeroes.
Tagovailoa fumbled at the Charger two-yard line on Miami’s opening possession and Nick Williams recovered it at the six-yard line for the Chargers. LA then scored first with a 14-play, 94-yard drive with Austin Ekeler finishing it with a one-yard touchdown run with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
The Dolphins responded with a 9-play, 75-yard drive. Raheem Mostert scored on a two-yard rush to tie it at 7.
Hill grabbed receptions of 29 and 28 yards but the Dolphins next drive stalled at the Chargers five-yard line. Jason Sanders kicked a 23-yard field goal for a 10-7 Miami lead early in the second quarter.
The Chargers quickly put together a six-play, 75-yard drive. Herbert found Donald Parham Jr. In the endzone for a one-yard TD pass and a 14-10 Charger lead with 9:07 left in the second quarter.
The drive was Highlighted by a 55-yard run by Ekeler that set up LA at the Miami nine yard line.
The Dolphins marched 80 yards on 12 plays to take a 17-14 lead with 1:42 left in the second quarter. Tagovailoa hit River Cracraft on a one-yard TD strike.
Cameron Dicker (The Kicker) nailed a 50-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the first half.
It looked like the half would end in a 17-17 tie but the Dolphins got the ball back and when Tagovailoa heaved the ball down the field with two seconds left the Chargers committed a 30-yard pass interference penalty. Sanders came on to kick a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give Miami a 20-17 lead at the break.
The Chargers opened the second half with a 75-yard drive. Herbert kept it himself for a one-yard score to put LA back in front 24-20. The Chargers were aided by two pass interference penalties called on Miami.
Hill got behind the Chargers secondary for a 35-yard touchdown reception on a perfectly thrown ball by Tagovailoa to put Miami back on top 27-24 with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. It was the fifth lead change of the day.
The Dolphins were up by three at the end of three.
Early in the fourth quarter Joshua Kelley scored on a two-yard run to put the Chargers back up 31-27 for the sixth lead change.
Sanders split the uprights from 45 yards out with 10:03 remaining to cut the Chargers lead to 31-30.
Dicker countered with a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead back to four at 34-30 with 3:57 left.
The Dolphins then scored the game winner on the Tua-Tyreek connection with 1:45 left. Sanders missed the extra point leaving the door open for the Chargers.
But on the Chargers final possession the penalty and the sack iced it for the Dolphins.
Miami’s offense was pass heavy but the Dolphins ended up with 566 total yards. After Hill Tagovailoa’s favorite was Jaylen Waddle who had four catches for 78 yards.
For the Chargers Herbert completed 23 of 33 for 228 yards and a touchdown. Keenan Allen had six catches for 76 yards. Ekeler had a big day leading the running attack with 117 yards and a score on 10 carries. Ekeler also caught four balls for 47 yards.
The Chargers will try to bounce back next week when they travel to Tennessee to face the Titans.