Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) – Miami Dolphins (1-0): 34-36
Tua Tagovailoa vs. Justin Herbert. The 5th against the 6th of the 2020 draft. The duel was highly anticipated. He did not disappoint.
At the end of a leading offensive orgy, it was ultimately Miami who emerged victorious at the end of the suspense. In a meeting where the two attacks went blow for blow, it was ultimately the Dolphins’ pass rush and the penalties against the Chargers that made the difference on the last drive.
A real duel of attacks
While we expected to see two dominant aerial attacks, the Chargers played in a balanced manner. Austin Ekeler (117 yards and 1 TD on the ground, 47 yards receiving) was in the oven and in the mill, and Justin Herbert (23/33, 228 yards, 1 TD) made a clean copy. However, the general impression was spoiled by his mistake at the end of the match which perhaps cost his team the victory.
On the other hand, no surprises. The Dolphins passing game was lethal. Tua Tagovailoa (28/45, 466 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) started again on the same basis as last year. Above all, he was able to count on Tyreek Hil in Olympic form (11 receptions, 215 yards, 2 TDs), already in line with his goal of 2000 yards for the season. Cheetah was on every ball. More than a safety valve, it seemed that even if Tua had thrown the ball with his eyes closed, Hill would have been on the fallback.
Tyreek Hill and his teammates simply tortured the Chargers’ air defense. Poor JC Jackson, already unrecognizable last year, seemed completely lost. Sure, he got away with an interception, but he was also ridiculed by all the opposing receivers. His catastrophic pass interference at the end of the first half, which allowed the Dolphins to score an unexpected field goal before returning to the locker room, testifies to his difficulties. 3 points which counted at the end of the match.
A thrilling end to the match
If overall the meeting was pleasant to follow, the last three minutes were breathtaking. While trailing by four points after a Cameron Dicker field goal, the Dolphins faced a 3rd and 10 on their own 25 yards. On the previous action, they even almost lost possession on a fumble, but the decision was overturned by the referees, Salvon Ahmed not having full control of the ball.
In a desperate move, and despite very good pressure from the Chargers defense, Tua Tagovailoa sent a 47-yard bomb for the inevitable Tyreek Hill. A few actions later, again on the 3rd attempt, this time 4 yards from the goal, the same connection is made for what will be the winning touchdown.
The Chargers still had the chance to win, Jason Sanders having missed the conversion. 1min45 on the clock to move up the field and get into field goal position, the mission did not seem impossible. But a 10-yard penalty against Justin Herbert following an intentional pass on the ground, and the awakening of the Dolphins’ pass rush which will sack the Chargers quarterback twice will put an end to the suspense.
In addition to being a victory at the end of a pleasant meeting full of twists and turns, this success is not trivial. In an AFC that looks like the Wild West, places for the playoffs will be fought out between several good teams, like these two. Every success counts, and this one does the Dolphins a lot of good.