(East Los Angeles, CA). [From The Editor’s Desk]: The sun was shining brightly in Los Angeles and the temperature for the game was a hot 88° as the Los Angeles Chargers welcomed their 70,000 fans back into SoFi Stadium for the start of their 4th season playing here. Just a great day to head out to SoFi Stadium as an individual, with a group of good friends, or a family and watch the Chargers take on Miami in the season opener.
First up on their regular season schedule were the Dolphins, led into this early season and highly competitive match-up by their young, and brilliant southpaw QB, #1 Tua Tagovailoa.
It was also a glorious moment for thousands of Charger fans to relive the great memories that both of their Hall of Famers, WR/#18 Charlie Joiner, and Tight End/#80 Kellen Winslow were celebrated at halftime for their Jersey Retirement recognition inside of SoFi Stadium. There was also a special ceremony that honored the late, great Chargers Head Coach, Don Coryell for his recent induction as member of the Class of 2023 into the Pro Football Hall of Hame in Canton, Ohio.
[1st Qtr]: Miami was fast out of the gate and whizzed up, then down field and into the Red Zone. But with the ball on the 2 yard line, Tagovailoa fumbled the snap and the Bolts recovered at their 5. Then QB #10 Justin Herbert went to work with running backs/#30 Austin Ekeler and #25/Joshua Kelley on the ground, and WR/#13 Keenan Allen via the air waves, and drove the full length of the field, while using up (7:00) minutes of clock. Herbert then handed off to #30 Ekeler for the 1 yard dive and the score. Dicker made his first Point After Touchdown (PAT), making the score (7-0) Chargers with (4:49) left in the period. The Dolphins scored on their 2nd possession by going 75 yards on 5 plays. They eventually scored to tie the game at (7-7).
[2nd Qtr]: The Chargers kept possession to start the period, but still had to punt. Tagovailoa began to seriously warm-up and with lazer-like precision found his favorite receiver, WR/#10 Tyreek Hill, open for big catch & run plays. They soon reached the Red Zone and got down to the 5 on a short pass upfield making it first & goal-to-go. Another pass to Hill was completed at the 1 yard line but it was successfully challenged after Coach Staley threw the Flag onto the field. It was ruled an incomplete because Hill was not completely inbounds.
On their next possession. the Dolphins started a drive and marched downfield with purpose. On a big play call of 4th and 7, Coach Mike McDaniel gambled and won with Tagovailoa completing a “down & out” pass to Hill for a 1st down at the 18 yard line. A time-out was then called for the (2:00) minute warning of the half. The Dolphins scored after the break making it (17-14). On the Bolts last possession of the half, Herbert drove the team into Dolphins territory looking to get at least into field goal range for Dicker. On 3rd & 10, Herbert then scrambled for 3 yards, bringing up 4th & 7. Miami then took a final time-out with just (0:14) seconds left. Dicker then came on for a successful 50 yarder tying the game at (17-17). But, due to a pass interference call and clock-stopping penalty by the Bolts #27 CB/JC Jackson, at the 30 yard line, with only (00:02) seconds on the scoreboard, the Dolphins had a chance to close out the period with a 4o yard field goal by their reliable placekicker, #7/Jason Sanders. That moved the score to a favorable (20-17) lead for Miami.
[HALF TIME SCORE]: Dolphins 20 Chargers 17
[HALF-TIME FESTIVITIES]: #18/Charlie Joiner, #80/Kellen Winslow, Jersey Retirements & Celebration of the late Head Coach Don Coryell’s Hall of Fame Induction
[3rd Qtr]: The Bolts took the kick-off and then managed to keep the ball for a scoring drive of 8 plays that covered 75 yards in (2:45) minutes. They scored on a QB sneaker by QB/Herbert lifting the Chargers to a (24-20) lead with (9:19) remaining. But the Dolphins were persistent and mounted their own drive to answer back with a 35 yard TD pass to #10 Hill. The score was now Dolphins 27, Bolts 24. The Chargers took the kick-off and put the ball in play at their own 25 yard line.
[4th Qtr]: This period was the busiest and most drama-building of the four needed to complete the game. The Chargers started the period in possession and moved downfield quickly on 10 plays to score a TD on 2 yard blast by #25 Kelley along with the PAT, moving the scoreboard to read Bolts 31, Dolphins 27. That came at the (14:03) mark. Then the Dolphins behind the smooth operating of QB Tagovailova and his pair of excellent wide-outs, Tyreek Hill and #0/Braxton Berrios, made big plays that were very gratifying to their fans in attendance. The decisive play in this drive was a contested catch by Berrios that he appeared to short-hop, but Coach Staley was over-ruled in his bid and this kept the Dolphins drive alive. It resulted in another Sanders field goal from 45 yards out that moved the Dolphins closer at (31-30). This came at the (10:03) mark.
The Chargers came back with their own scoring drive with big plays by WR/#81 Michael Williams and #25/Joshua Kelley that ultimately put them in field goal range for Dicker to add 3 more points with a 25 yarder, putting them up by a score of (34-30) with (5:10) left in the game. Things got going again when Tagovailoa connected with Hill on a huge 47 yard bomb putting the ball at the Chargers 28. After the (2:00) minute warning, they drove it down to the Bolts 8 yard line and then on 3rd and goal, with just (1:48 ) left, Tua struck gold again with Hill for a 4 yard TD pass that gave them the lead back at (36-34), but Sanders somehow missed the PAT, leaving the Chargers with hopes to win on a final drive with plenty of time to re-group and ask their offense to get them into field goal range for Dicker. However, that would not happen as Herbert could not escape the Dolphins D-Line pressures and was sacked first with (1:09) left. Herbert did manage to find #81/Williams for a 17 yard gain, but it brought up a 4th and 12 from their 33. Herbert’s final snap came at (1:01) and he was disappointedly sacked a second time for a 9 yard loss. The Dolphins then took over and ran the clock out with Tagovailoa taking the customary knee starting from the (0:55) second mark.
[FINAL SCORE]: Miami Dolphins 36 Los Angeles Chargers 34
[OF SIGNIFICANCE]: The huge breakdown in the offensive line protection of Herbert during the final seconds of the game. The costly sacks did not allow the Chargers to pick up the much-needed big yardage to get Dicker into field goal range and kick what would have been a dramatic game winning field goal. A big issue for Head Coach Brandon Staley and his Coaching Staff that needs to be addressed immediately.
[NEXT UP]: Tennessee Titans,(0-1), Sunday, Sept. 17th at 10:00 am PT. Game can be viewed on CBS.