In a game that seemed oddly close despite drastically different quarterback performances, it was the Chargers who managed to beat back the vaunted Dolphins offense for a 23-14 lead at home under the lights of primetime.
The Chargers defense came to play, unlike any other week that has come before. They held Tua Tagovailo to 145 yards on 10-of-28 passing which was certainly inflated by a 60-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill. And while they weren’t super tough on the run, they limited the Miami ground game enough to not be taken advantage of like so many teams have done this season.
Herbert was absolutely masterful and there’s no question who the real “social media quarterback” is at this point in the season.
For a complete quarter-by-quarter recap of tonight’s game, check it all out below.
The Dolphins got the ball to begin the game and, despite facing a terrible run defense, they rattled off three-straight passes which all fell incomplete. So like that, the Chargers began the game forcing Miami into a three-and-out.
Los Angeles took the ball and marched 78 yards in 15 plays only to fall short of the goal line by a yard after a fourth-down attempt by the offense. Despite having their top trio of receivers available, Joe Lombardi chose to throw a screen pass to DeAndre Carter several yards short of the end zone. Carter stumbled after the catch and couldn’t make it to the pylon.
The Chargers defense held after giving up just one first down, including nearly picking off a pass from Tua well within Dolphins territory. With just a few minutes remaining in the opening period, the Bolts took over at their own 43-yard line.
The Bolts got to the Miami 20-yard line before Herbert took a sack of six yards from defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Time ticked off in the quarter following the play.
The Chargers attempted a screen pass to Ekeler on a third-and-16 but Ekeler was dragged down five yards short of the chains. Staley decided to take the points and sent Dicker out to put the Chargers up 3-0.
Somehow, the defense of the Chargers still refused to break. The Bolts forced the Dolphins into another three-and-out, which included Kyle Van Noy’s first sack of the season.
Herbert and the offense capitalized on the momentum from the defensive stop by capping off their next drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams in the back of the end zone. Joshua Kelley also deserves a ton of credit as the young back broke off a 22-yard run to help get the Chargers into the red zone. With just under 10 minutes left in the first half, the Bolts led 10-0.
On the ensuing Dolphins drive, an actual literal miracle took place. Unfortunately, it was in MIami’s favor.
On a run by Jeff Wilson. Alohi Gilman ripped the ball loose from his grasp and a scrum immediately followed. Somehow, some way, the ball was scooped up and lofted into the arms of Tyreek Hill who ran around the backside untouched into the end zone from 57 yards out. I don’t recall ever seeing anything like it, but all of a sudden the Dolphins were back within three points.
The Chargers struggled on their next drive and punted the ball back after just three short plays. The Dolphins couldn’t muster much on their end and kicked it right back after a seven-play drive.
Herbert went to work just before the break to lead the offense on a 13-play, 90-yard drive that was capped off by a one-yard score by Ekeler to push their lead back to 10 points as they headed into the half.
Once again, the Chargers couldn’t muster much of anything to begin the third quarter despite the mountain of momentum on their side. The offense took a very odd delay of game penalty on second down where the team never actually broke the huddle which set them back behind the chains.
The Chargers defense continued to smother Tua and the Miami offense, forcing yet another three-and-out on their first drive of the second half.
Third-quarter offensive woes continued. however, and the Bolts punted right back after six quick plays.
The Bolts eventually found a groove thanks to a 55-yard connection from Herbert to Williams which put them deep into Miami territory. A seven-yard pass to Allen put them inside the 15 but the wheels proceeded to come off immediately following the play.
Corey Linsley was called for an “illegal snap” which cost the team five yards. The penalty hurt quite a bit as it not only killed the drive, but there were multiple Chargers open in the end zone on the negated play. Cameron Dicker came in and converted a on his field goal attempt to push the score to 20-14.
Los Angeles got the ball back thanks to a well-timed sack by Morgan Fox on third down. The Chargers faced a fourth-and-one as time expired in the quarter.
The Chargers ultimately punted the ball back to Miami but the defense was once again prepared to face the challenge at hand.
Herbert and the offense decided it was time for a gut check before putting together a massive 17-play, 79-yard drive that took 8:39 off of the clock and ended in a 28-yard field field goal to push Los Angeles’ lead to 23-14 with 2:40 left in regulation.
The Dolphins managed to put up a field goal to close the gap within six points but Nick Niemann recovered the onside kick and the Chargers walked away victorious over the Dolphins 23-17 in primetime.
Justin Herbert finished with a season-high 367 yards on 39-of-51 passing with a lone touchdown.
Austin Ekeler rushed for 45 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. He also caught eight passes for 59 additional yards.
Mike Williams led the team with 116 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches. Keenan Allen paced the offense with 12 receptions for 92 yards. It was his 10th game of 12 or more catches, the most in NFL history.
Kenneth Murray led the defense with seven total tackles. Kyle Van Noy and Morgan Fox each recorded a sack.
The Chargers are back at home next week to face the Titans (7-6).