Los Angeles Chargers (7-6) – Miami Dolphins (8-5): 23-17
Tempting poster, with the sweet smell of playoffs, between two teams in doubt this Sunday night. First of all, the residents of SoFi Stadium, the Chargers, beaten by the rivals of the Raiders last week, and who see the playoffs moving away (9th in AFC at the start of the game) once again. Opposite, the irresistible Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa, MVP contender, but completely padlocked last week against San Francisco. An anomaly, or has the NFL finally found the key to stopping Hill and Waddle?
We could expect a frantic race for points, in view of the panel of playmakers of each attack. Nay! The defensive coordinators have sharpened their game plan, and it was not until the second quarter to see the Chargers open the scoring on a field goal, after failing in the fourth attempt two yards from the in-goal on the previous possession. It is more worrying on the other hand on the side of the Floridians. Tua Tagovailoa (10/28, 145 yards, 1 TD) shows the same face as last week, chaining badly measured passes and bad readings. Brilliant so far, Jaylen Waddle (2 receptions, 31 yards) is once again a non-factor. Tyreek Hill (4 receptions, 81 yards, 1 TD + 1 TD on covered fumble), he once again manages to pull out of the game statistically, but he is too alone. In a ludicrous situation, he miraculously recovers a fumble from Jeff Wilson and allows the Dolphins to score their first points to stay in the game… at least countably (17-7 at halftime).
Herbert does what is necessary
The Chargers often failed to finish inferior teams. The final score is a trompe l’oeil, because this Sunday the Dolphins were clearly inferior to the Chargers on both sides of the ball, but Los Angeles knew how to finish the job. Better, the Chargers delivered a complete performance, limiting the Dolphins to 219 short yards (twice less than the Chargers!), and mastering the time in attack (almost 40 minutes of possession), thanks to a good Justin Herbert: 39/51, 367 yards, 1 TD.
If he could have sublimated his performance by being more decisive in the red zone (only 2 touchdowns in 6 passes), Herbert was in good chemistry with his acolytes Mike Williams (6 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD) and Keenan Allen (12 receptions , 92 yards). The small pile Austin Ekeler has also contributed, despite a good defense against the race of Florida: 15 carried, 45 yards, 1 TD, 8 receptions, 59 yards.
Derwin James said after last week’s loss that the Chargers couldn’t afford to lose by the end of the season to go to the playoffs. The first step is successful, and with an end of the schedule is quite affordable (Titans, Colts, Rams, Broncos), Los Angeles can afford to dream.
On the side of Miami, we must sound the alarm now. After two more than worrying performances from the Hawaiian quarterback, Mike McDaniel must find solutions and put his men back on the right track before a complicated end to the season (Bills, Packers, Patriots, Jets). Without that, the Dolphins’ great season could end in blood sausage.
What… just… happened 😳 @cheetah
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2022