Final: Miami Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa defeat LA Chargers, Justin Herbert 29-21
The Miami Dolphins host the Los Angeles Chargers today at Hard Rock Stadium, but the matchup on many fans' minds is the one between the teams' two rookie quarterbacks: Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.
The Dolphins took Tagovailoa, a national champion at Alabama, No. 5 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Chargers chose Herbert, the former Oregon star, right behind him at No. 6.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores has turned the Dolphins around quickly after last year's horrendous start and now has them eying a playoff spot. They will be without one of their top defensive playmakers after defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week.
Follow along with updates from the matchup between Tua and Herbert. Scroll down for live updates from the Palm Beach Post's Dolphins team.
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The Dolphins recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock, ending the game and improving to 6-3 on the season and 3-0 since Tua Tagovailoa took over.
Tua finished 15 of 25 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Herbert was 20 of 32 for 187 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Chargers.
The Chargers again failed to convert a first down, coming up short on fourth-and-1 from their 46. The Dolphins got a 17-yard run from Patrick Laird before Jason Sanders extended their lead with a 49-yard field goal.
Justin Herbert was much sharper on the Chargers' next possession, going 4 of 7 for 58 yards and throwing a 13-yard touchdown to Keenan Allen in the face of an all-out blitz.
Score: Dolphins 29, Chargers 21
After a three-and-out from the Chargers, Jakeem Grant ran the punt back to the Chargers' 38-yard line. The Dolphins couldn't pick up a first down, and Jason Sanders was wide right on a 47-yard attempt, his first missed field goal of the season.
The Chargers were driving until Emmanuel Ogbah sacked Justin Herbert on the first play of the fourth quarter, his sixth straight game with a sack. On the next play, Xavien Howard intercepted a pass intended for Mike Williams and ran it back to the Chargers 32.
Salvon Ahmed ran twice for 15 yards, and Tua Tagovailoa went 3 of 3 for 18 yards and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Durham Smythe, who was the only one on his side of the field.
Tua is 14 of 24 for 167 yards and two TDs, while Ahmed has run 16 times for 83 yards and a score.
Score: Dolphins 26, Chargers 14
After two passes from Tua Tagovailoa got the drive going, Salvon Ahmed ran for 18 yards to get the Dolphins into scoring range. Tua had one more big play, a 19-yard pass to Adam Shaheen that could have been intercepted.
The drive stalled in the red zone. Jason Sanders kicked a 35-yard field goal.
Score: Dolphins 20, Chargers 14
The Dolphins opened with a three-and-out as Tua Tagovailoa went 0 for 2. The Chargers turned around and put on an 11-play drive that ended with Justin Herbert finding tight end Hunter Henry in the back of the end zone. Herbert was 4 of 4 for 36 yards, while former Dolphins Kalen Ballage ran five times for 21 yards.
Score: Dolphins 17, Chargers 14
The Dolphins ran Salvon Ahmed three times for 9 yards before punting it back to the Chargers. Justin Herbert completed his first two passes after starting inside the Chargers' 5-yard line, but his next three throws fell incomplete. Jakeem Grant ran the punt back across midfield, and Jason Sanders kicked a 50-yard field goal with 24 seconds to go in the half.
In the first half, Tua was 8 of 14 passing for 105 yards and a touchdown. He also had three carries for 3 yards. Herbert was 7 of 12 for 58 yards with 11 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Score: Dolphins 17, Chargers 7
Justin Herbert went 1 of 2 with a 9-yard completion on third down to Jalen Guyton, but the Chargers went three-and-out again to close the first quarter.
Tua Tagovailoa was leading another scoring opportunity inside the Chargers' 10-yard line when the Dolphins fumbled a snap. Linebacker Nick Vigil scooped it up and ran it back into Dolphins territory, where he was tackled by Tagovailoa.
Tua was 3 of 5 for 38 yards on that drive, including this 23-yard pass to Devante Parker after a bobbled snap.
Joshua Kelley and Kalen Ballage ran eight times on the Chargers' drive before Herbert finished it with a QB sneak for a touchdown.
Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy was injured. His return was listed as probable.
Score: Dolphins 14, Chargers 7
Justin Herbert went 2 of 3 for 28 yards with a 7-yard scramble thrown in, but the Chargers drive stalled around midfield after Herbert missed Keenan Allen on a third-down pass.
The Dolphins were ready to settle for a field goal after driving to the 10, but the Chargers jumped offside on the kick, giving them a free set of downs. A beauty of a touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa to Devante Parker was ruled incomplete, but Tua found Jakeem Grant on the next play.
Salvon Ahmed ran four times for 31 yards.
Score: Dolphins 14, Chargers 10
The Chargers started with the ball, and on the second play, the Dolphins defense greeted Justin Herbert with a swarming sack. Two plays later, Andrew Van Ginkel capitalized on a bobble by punter Ty Long and blocked the punt, giving the Dolphins the ball at the 1-yard line.
Running back Salvon Ahmed punched it in on the Dolphins' first play for his first career touchdown.
Score: Dolphins 7, Chargers 0