Tyreek Hill’s heroics aren’t enough to save the Dolphins in LA

Tyreek Hill’s heroics aren’t enough to save the Dolphins in LA

INGLEWOOD – Tyreek Hill scored two of the most memorable touchdowns of the Miami Dolphins season on Sunday night.

And almost nothing else will be worth revisiting about their 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers — or about this two-game disaster on a California road trip — when the shaken Dolphins (8-5) finally get back to work at home.

Hill returned a fumble 57 yards for a crazy touchdown in the second quarter, found the ball off the back of a big scrum and took it to the house with his unmatched speed to end the Dolphins’ fourth offensive drive. The score trimmed the Chargers’ lead to 10-7 even though Miami had managed zero net yards on its first three drives.

“It was a big play that I was hoping would get us out of the funk, and it didn’t really do it as much as I would have hoped,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.

Hill then caught a 60-yard touchdown pass down the Miami sideline in the second half on a beautiful throw from Tua Tagovailoa, again pulling the Dolphins within three points of LA at 17-14. Hill even became the Dolphins’ single-season leader in receiving yards with the big catch, no small feat for a franchise with Miami’s history.

“It was a big opportunity that we got the matchup we wanted with Tyreek going 1-on-1,” Tagovailoa said. “It gave him an opportunity. He made the most of it.”

But those points were the Dolphins’ only touchdowns, and they weren’t enough to steal a win. Miami stumbled home to evaluate this disheartening defeat during a short week of preparation for a Saturday night trip to Buffalo, where the Dolphins will try to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season.

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Hill’s explosive play kept the Dolphins in a game that had no business being close given Tagovailoa’s dismal performance and the Chargers’ clear edges in most areas of the game. Miami’s offense produced no other highlights, as the Dolphins managed just 219 total yards and Tagovailoa had just 145 yards passing in an ugly 10-for-28 outing.

“We’ve seen consistent flashes of our offense executing and executing well,” Tagovailoa said. “So to have gone out this weekend and played the way we played, especially from my side, it’s unacceptable.”

Aside from his TD catch, which happened in part because Chargers defensive back Michael Davis fell down on the play, Hill’s other three receptions — for a total of 10 targets — went for a combined 21 yards. Some of those targets were uncatchable balls from Tagovailoa, whose accuracy was alarmingly poor.

Jaylen Waddle made just two catches, none until the fourth quarter. The ground game produced 92 yards, but Jeff Wilson Jr. injured his ankle in the second quarter, further complicating the establishment of any rhythm.

“Overall, we were out of whack, out of rhythm,” Tagovailoa said. “We’re trying to find it. We felt like we had some momentum and then something happens, whether it’s a penalty or we get stopped on a play. We just have to get better.”

After their 33-17 loss to the Super Bowl contending 49ers last weekend, the Dolphins traveled to Los Angeles and spent the week practicing at UCLA instead of adding two more cross-country flights to the agenda. The travel hack didn’t pay off, and the Dolphins even stumbled through long stretches of this game in the gradual haze all too familiar to fans of visiting professional teams who get an extra night off in Hollywood or Miami Beach.

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The drop off was especially stark because the Dolphins had averaged 394 yards in their last six games entering — the fourth-best total in the league since Tagovailoa returned from injury for Week 7. Tagovailoa was the NFL’s top-ranked quarterback coming into Inglewood, but he realized that he looked most awful against the Bolts.

Tagovailoa posted the worst performance of any offense in the NFL this season with three first-half completions and four completions through the first three quarters. McDaniel repeatedly refused to call out Tagovailoa for a bad game afterward, saying the quarterback shared responsibility with his receivers and offensive line for Miami’s ineptitude.

“The bottom line is, who cares whose fault it is?” McDaniel said. “I thought overall, with the way everybody played, for us to win the game, (Tagovailoa) was probably going to have to do something big. But collectively, the quarterbacks are only as good as the offense, and collectively we just weren’t good enough.”

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