The Carolina Panthers were up 14-0, shutting out the Miami Dolphins after the first quarter. It was the largest lead the Panthers have had all season.
The Dolphins owned the remaining three-quarters of the game after Tua Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes, helping them overcome the 14-point deficit to win 42-21.
The Dolphins have opened the season 5-1 for the first time since 2002.
Tagovailoa connected with Tyreek Hill on a 41-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter, giving the Dolphins the lead once and for all. He celebrated by grabbing a media member’s cell phone near the end zone and recorded himself doing a backflip. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the second straight game.
“I know the NFL is going to fine me, but it is worth it though,” Hill said. “Being able to create memories that I can look back on when I am done playing is always something I think of each and every time I play this game. Every time I step on this field, I am going to make it memorable.”
Hill is the first player in NFL history to record 150+ receiving yards in four of his team’s first six games of a season.
The All-Pro receiver Hill caught six passes for 163 yards to bring his NFL-leading season total to 814 yards receiving.
“I am having so much fun my life is not about money,” Hill added. “I never play this game for money; I play this game for passion.”
Hill’s 814 yards for the season through six games is the most in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) and second-most in NFL history.
Tagovailoa finished 21 of 31 for 262 yards and has an NFL-leading 1,876 yards passing this season.
“There were some mishaps; you have to give credit to their defense; their defense did a good job with what they thought were going to do,” Tagovailoa said. “Some of them they guessed right. Some of them, we had to be better with our technique. That is across the board.”
Miami has now won 19 of the past 26 games started by Tagovailoa, dating back to Nov. 21, 2021. He is now 19-7 (.731) in his past 26 starts.
Dolphins’ offensive line did not give up a sack protecting Tagovailoa. He arrived at Hard Rock Stadium at 10:00 a.m. and went over his game preparation.
“Five and one, it is what it is right now. It feels good anytime you can get a win,” Tagovailoa added. “But the job is not done yet. Where we want to go, we must continue to stack wins together.”
Miami came from behind and scored 35 straight points before Mike White replaced Tagovailoa with about four minutes left and threw an interception that cornerback Troy Hill returned for a touchdown.
Dolphins were a perfect five for five in the game’s red zone and had ten touchdown drives of three plays or fewer this season.
“It was a big day for our football team. The guys knew it; they did not bat an eye, they didn’t go at each other, they didn’t question calls,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said. The guys played appropriate football and did not panic.”
This is Miami’s 15th win in its past 17 home games. It is the best 17-game home stretch for the Dolphins since Hard Rock Stadium opened in 1987 and the best since it went 23-2 at the Orange Bowl from Oct. 30, 1983, to Jan. 4, 1986.
“It is a journey of the NFL season. Your team has to adjust through injury and strength and weaknesses,” McDaniel added. “Anytime you can find valuable lessons, things happen to your team. It is a residual win.”
The Panthers (0-6) took advantage of an unusually slow Dolphins start with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Chuba Hubbard in the opening quarter. Then, Adam Thielen caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young.
“It was a good start, but obviously, you’re not going to win a game in the first quarter, in the first couple of drives. So we have to do a lot better job sustaining and building off that. Some good things there, and then obviously didn’t have the success after that,” Young stated. “First and foremost, that falls on me. I have to do a better job of executing, making sure we all execute as a unit. Again, us as a unit, as a team, we all look in the mirror, and we all have to improve.”
Young finished 23 of 38 with 217 yards and was sacked four times. The No. 1 overall pick remains winless, although his 85.1 QB rating was his highest in a game.
“Good start is good. It’s good to jump out to an early lead, but we see what the scoreboard finished with, so it’s not a consolation prize,” Young added. “We have to be able to sustain it. I think it showed what we’re capable of, and there is positive there, and we have to find a way to keep building on that and keep improving and then cut out the bad that came.”
The game featured the battle of Alabama quarterbacks in Young and Tagovailoa. Young shared he turned down attending USC for Alabama because of following Tagovailoa at Alabama.
Panthers can feel optimistic about their number-one overall pick in Young.
Thielen topped 100 yards receiving for the second straight game with 115 yards on 11 catches.
Panthers remain the only winless team in the NFL; they have a bye week next week.
Give credit to the Panthers, who were a winless team on the road, facing a team that averages nearly 40 points per game, but the Dolphins were able to get out of an early funk. Once they did, starting in the second quarter, they were in rhythm offensively.
Raheem Mostert had 17 carries for 115 yards, including a 48-yard run in the second quarter that set up the tying TD catch by Jaylen Waddle.
Mostert has confidence that he can be the best running back on the Dolphins team. It does not matter the play calling or whom he shares the backfield with. He takes advantage of his opportunities. He is impressive getting yards after contact, being able to be elusive in the open field. With his speed and able to find a hole he turns a short gain to a potential touchdown.
“If you see what we are doing, it is special,” Mostert said. “To be able to go out here and put up these points and numbers. We have a special group.”
Jaelen Phillips was back on defense for the Dolphins. His presence was a factor on the defensive line and in sacking Young. Panthers were 5 of 14 on third down. 0 for 4 for on fourth down, all after the Dolphins spotted the Panthers’ 14 points. Young kept his composure, but the defense pressure gave the Dolphins offense momentum.
“Enjoy each other’s presence; everyone plays their best when you are loose and having fun,” Phillips said.
The running back room took another hit in this game, with De’Von Achane on injured reserved entering the week. RB Chris Brooks was helped off the field in the fourth with a leg injury and was immediately ruled out.
Dolphins face their biggest test this season when they visit Super Bowl runner-up Philadelphia Eagles.