The Miami Dolphins won their fifth straight game on Sunday, as they defeated the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 29-21. While some were expecting fireworks from rookie quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa, we didn't necessarily get them in this matchup. Herbert threw for 187 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while Tagovailoa threw for 169 yards and two scores as well. He didn't "will" this team to victory, but the Dolphins are now 3-0 with Tagovailoa under center.
The Chargers may have suffered another loss this week, but Kalen Ballage had himself a successful outing against his former team. He rushed for 68 yards on 18 carries and also caught five passes for a total of 34 yards. The offense just couldn't come up with enough big plays that would give them opportunities to acquire momentum and give Los Angeles a chance at a win. The Dolphins move to 6-3 with the victory while the Chargers fall to 2-7.
Why the Dolphins won
When previewing this game earlier in the week, we discussed the one thing that the Dolphins could accomplish that would guarantee them a victory: Consistency in all three facets of the game. It started from the very first series, as Andrew Van Ginkel blocked a punt after the Chargers went three and out on their first drive. The loose ball was recovered by Miami on the one-yard line, and Salvon Ahmed punched it in for the first score of the game just one play later. Xavien Howard picked off Herbert in the second half and the defense limited the Chargers to just 273 yards of total offense, while the offense added a total of three touchdowns. Tagovailoa may be 3-0 as a starter, but the past three wins have been total team efforts -- which is a characteristic successful NFL franchises share.
Why the Chargers lost
The Chargers didn't necessarily play a bad game, but they just didn't register any big plays that would earn the offense some momentum. The Dolphins blocked a punt and picked off Herbert once, but even the Chargers' lone takeaway was really the Dolphins' fault -- as center Ted Karras mishandled a snap. Herbert is certainly a special talent and a legitimate starting quarterback, but is he going to have to will this team to victory every single week?
The third quarter got interesting, as the Chargers forced a three-and-out, scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession and then held Miami to just a field goal on its next drive. While the game didn't feel too close, the scoreboard read 20-14, and the Chargers were driving again. Then, Herbert threw an interception to Xavien Howard, who took it back to the Chargers' 32-yard line. From there, the Dolphins scored a touchdown to extend the lead to 12 points, and the game felt virtually over.
Play of the game
Van Ginkel's blocked punt was an absolutely huge play. It set the tempo for the Dolphins on Sunday and also led to the first touchdown of the game. Van Ginkel is not a household name, but he is a very smart football player who is seemingly always set on making a huge play whenever he steps on the field. He forced a fumble last week and also scored a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago!
The Chargers head back to L.A., where they will host the New York Jets. Sam Darnold and Co. are on a bye this week, but they most recently fell to the New England Patriots by a score of 30-27. The Dolphins hit the road next Sunday, as they are slated to take on Drew Lock and the Denver Broncos.