5 Instant Takeaways: Dolphins lose at Chargers as Tua Tagovailoa struggles

INGLEWOOD, Calif. − Round 2, Herbert.

The Chargers beat the Dolphins, 23-17, at SoFi Stadium on "Sunday Night Football."

Justin Herbert shined for Los Angeles passing for 367 yards in the second meeting between the star quarterbacks.

Tua Tagovailoa struggled for Miami, completing only 6 of his first 22 passes for 112 yards and ending the night 10 of 28 for 145 yards.

The Dolphins (8-5) have dropped two straight and have a short week with a game at Buffalo on Saturday night.

“They kicked our butts,” Dolphins offensive tackle Terron Armstead said.

“We’ve got to look in the mirror,” Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill said. “We’re not going to point any fingers.”

The Chargers (7-6) have the Titans and Colts on deck as they re-enter the AFC race.

Here are our takeaways:

Tyreek Hill breaking records

It didn't take long for Hill to break the Dolphins' single-season receiving record. Early in Miami's 13th game, Hill broke Mark Clayton's record of 1,389 yards set in 1984.

The Dolphins struggled badly on offense in the first half. Miami punted four times and the only score came on a bizarre play involving Hill.

Jeff Wilson fumbled and while a bunch of 300-pounders were rolling around trying to secure the ball, it squirted out. Then Hill picked the ball up and ran 57 yards for a touchdown.

Then in the third quarter, Hill hauled in a 60-yard touchdown when the Chargers inexplicably covered him 1-on-1 down the right sideline. To that point, Tua had a total of 25 passing yards.

Hill is Miami's most indispensable player. And he is the Dolphins' MVP at the moment, just ahead of Tua Tagovailoa.

Hill is Miami's most dangerous player. He gets open easily. He helps everyone else get much more wide open. His speed is unequaled. He was an incredible acquisition.

When the Dolphins said at halftime that Hill was questionable to return with an ankle injury, that was a potentially devastating development. But he began the half in Miami's huddle.

However, he was seen getting treatment on the ankle throughout the second half and was noticeably limping at times on the field.

Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) throws against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Terron Armstead starts on the offensive line

Terron Armstead has a serious pectoral injury that would cause some players to shut it down for the season. At a minimum, some players would try to rest it for four weeks or so.

Armstead suited up on Sunday night after missing only one game. Armstead is also playing through a toe injury that will cause him pain all season.

Armstead is Miami's best lineman. The Dolphins added Eric Fisher as left tackle insurance. But Armstead is more than just a great player. He is the leader of the line.

Even though the Chargers did not have Joey Bosa available on Sunday, we saw how much Miami missed Armstead when the club allowed three sacks to his brother, Nick, in the San Francisco loss.

On Sunday night, Chargers linebacker Kyle Van Noy did get past Armstead for a sack.

The Dolphins chose to stick with Robert Jones at left guard and Brandon Shell at right tackle.

Christian Wilkins' impact comes early vs. Chargers

The Dolphins have seen Christian Wilkins improve in each of his four seasons. And it was all on display Sunday night.

In the first quarter alone, Wilkins posted 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss and 4 tackles.

Wilkins is developing into the player Miami thought he'd be. Recall that Wilkins was literally the first player picked in the rebuild era.

Miami general manager Chris Grier would surely like to extend Wilkins. But Wilkins has a fifth-year option available. And potentially a franchise tag in Year 6.

Even though Wilkins has increased his pressures and tackles for loss, he'll probably never been the type of sack-master that warrants a Top 6-10 defensive line salary. Of course, it would only take one NFL team.

Run the ball. Run the ball. Run the ball.

Jeff Wilson was ruled out of the second half due to a hip injury.

Raheem Mostert got some things going in the second half.

Salvon Ahmed saw some action. Tua even made a few runs.

The Dolphins will not be able to meet their lofty goals if they don't run more.

In this game, Miami rushed 19 times for 92 yards. Against the worst run defense in the NFL, it could have been even more.

Mike McDaniel is an offensive guru. He wants to run the ball. But perhaps he needs some of his assistants to remind him to do it more during the game.

This & That

Jaelan Phillips sacked Justin Herbert and was called for roughing the passer. What an absolute joke. What did he do? He sacked the man. Cris Collinsworth said, "that's terrible." An NBC rules analyst said it's a "normal tackle." Miami really got shafted there. ... One year ago, cornerback Kader Kohou was facing the likes of West Florida, UT Permian Basin and CSU-Pueblo. That young man shined for the Dolphins on "Sunday Night Football." Playing with a cast to protect a thumb injury, Kohou tackled well. In fact, Kohou prevented a Chargers touchdown in the first quarter with back-to-back tackles to keep them out of the end zone. ... Receiver Mike Williams returned to the Chargers' lineup and did beat Xavien Howard on a couple of long passing plays.

Joe Schad can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Instant Takeaways from Joe Schad: Dolphins vs. Chargers