MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The battle of young quarterbacks was decided by special teams and the Miami Dolphins’ blitz-happy defense.
Tua Tagovailoa had help from a less-heralded rookie while Justin Herbert struggled against a relentless pass rush, and the surprising Dolphins earned their fifth consecutive victory by beating the Los Angeles Chargers 29-21 Sunday.
The Chargers could never catch up after they were hurt by two mistakes in the kicking game that allowed Miami to take a 14-0 lead.
The Dolphins' Salvon Ahmed, making his first career start, ran for 85 yards on 21 carries and scored a 1-yard touchdown on his team's first play. The undrafted Ahmed filled in with two other running backs injured and sparked a ground game ranked fourth worst in the league.
The Dolphins (6-3) pulled within a half-game of AFC East-leading Buffalo. They have their best nine-game record since 2001. Under second-year coach Brian Flores, they have won more games than in all of 2019.
“This is a hungry group," Flores said. “They fight for each other.”
The Chargers (2-7) dropped their third game in a row and have their worst record at this point in a season since 2015.
“We got outplayed in all three phases,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “I was disappointed in the special teams and some of the things that went on there. None of us played well enough today.”