Tua Tagovailoa threw for three touchdowns, Tyreek Hill had 163 receiving yards and the Miami Dolphins rallied for a 42-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in front of a crowd of 65,529 fans.
In only the eighth meeting between these two clubs in NFL history, the Dolphins improved their record 6-2 against the Panthers, including four victories at home.
Sunday’s win was probably the most dramatic in the series. The Panthers (0-6) held a 14-point lead in the first quarter, before the Dolphins’ offense gained momentum in the second quarter and stole the show.
“It was a good start, but we didn’t win the game in the first couple drives, so we have to do a better job of sustaining and building off of that,” Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young said. “I mean, we know their offense, when they get hot, they’re hard to stop. They got some big-time playmakers.”
Young’s coach, Frank Reich, concurred, especially after seeing Hill rack up six catches and one touchdown.
“I mean, Tyreek? Man, when he hits that thing running, it looks different,” Reich said. “And it feels different.”
Raheem Mostert put the Dolphins on the board four minutes into the second quarter with one of his three touchdowns. Jaylen Waddle then caught a short pass to tie the game at 14-14, before Hill’s 41-yard touchdown late in the second quarter gave Miami a lead it would not relinquish.
Nicknamed “The Cheetah,” Hill extended his NFL-leading receiving yards total to 814.
“To be at the top of that list is something I’m always grateful for,” Hill said. “I feel like to me, I feel like that’s what it’s all about, me being able to set the standard, not only for our receiving room, but it’s bigger than that to me.”
Tagovailoa also solidified his position as the NFL leader in passing yards, upping his total to 1,876. Tagovailoa completed 21 out of 31 passes for 262 yards including his scoring tosses to Mostert and Hill.
For the first time since 2002, the Dolphins own a 5-1 start. That same season, the Dolphins missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996 and finished third in the AFC East.
This year might be a different story.
“Five and one, it is what it is right now,” Tagovailoa said. “It feels good any time you can get a win, but the job is not done yet. Where we want to go, we’ve got to continue to stack wins together.”
The win kept Miami alone in first place in the AFC East and protected a perfect home record, moving to 3-0 at Hard Rock.
“Our fans do a great job of bringing great energy to this stadium each and every game, win or lose,” Hill said. “So, that always helps.”
The past two weeks, however, Miami defeated teams that are a combined 1-11. That will change this week when they face last season’s Super Bowl runner-ups, the Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) on Sunday Night Football.
“We’ll be moving forward the way that we would hope, which is with games that matter on big platforms because that’s why you do it in the first place,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “Those are going to be obstacles and/or positives of any type of success. And we’ve had a successful first six games.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, head into their bye week as the only team in the NFL without a win.