Waddle and Hill, a ‘Maserati’ and ‘McLaren’, just had one of the best games in NFL history

David Santiago/dsantiago@miamiherald.com

A few months ago, Tyreek Hill decided he and Jaylen Waddle were like a pair of sports cars: One was a Lamborghini, he said, and the other a Ferrari.

After the Miami Dolphins’ stunning 42-38 win against the Baltimore Ravens, the star wide receiver decided it was already time for an upgrade.

“I’m probably going to change that,” Hill said. “I feel like he’s a Maserati and I’m a McLaren.”

After Sunday, it’s hard to blame him. The Dolphins’ win was, in so many different ways, historic and no one made more history than those two wide receivers.

Hill, who actually missed a series in the second half with cramps and was at one point listed as questionable to return, finished with 11 catches for 190 and two touchdowns. Waddle finished with 11 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 14 seconds left.

It was legitimately a performance unlike any other in NFL history: Before this weekend, there had never been a game with two teammates each catching at least 10 passes for 150-plus yards and two touchdowns. For added measure, they also each had a catch go for at least 55 yards and combined for five catches of 20-plus yards.

“That,” defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said, “was awesome.”

Hill did most of his work in the fourth quarter, catching five passes for 142 yards and both of his touchdowns in the final 9:11 after he came back from those cramps. Waddle did his throughout and helped keep Miami (2-0) within striking distance, so Hill could take over in the final minutes.

In the first half, Waddle almost singlehandedly created the Dolphins’ lone touchdown by turning a simple throw to the middle of the field into a 59-yard gain and then scoring at the end of the drive on a screen pass to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. In the second half, he was the No. 1 option quarterback Tua Tagovailoa needed when Hill briefly exited the game and the Ravens (1-1) pushed their lead up to 35-14 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

With Hill out of the game and Miami in need of a touchdown to stay alive, Waddle caught three straight passes for 33, 10 and 16 yards to push the Dolphins down to Baltimore’s 10-yard line, and fellow wide receiver River Cracraft scored three plays later to cut the Ravens’ lead to 35-21 with 12:12 left.

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Tagovailoa targeted Waddle 19 times in the win.

“It was good to get him going early,” coach Mike McDaniel said, “because we are pretty different when he’s making plays.”

Although Waddle scored the game-winning touchdown in the final minute, Hill owned the rest of the game. After Miami forced a turnover on downs, Hill reentered the game with 9:11 left, made one short catch and then went deep, outrunning Baltimore’s secondary and pulling in a 48-yard touchdown with 7:47 left.

On the next drive, he scored even more easily. Lined up out wide on the left side of the formation, he saw there was no safety help anywhere near him and looked back at Tagovailoa, chirped a signal to his quarterback — “Yee!” — and went deep again. This time, it was a game-tying 60-yard touchdown and no one was ever close to him. Hill was so open, Waddle started to celebrate the touchdown before Hill even caught the ball.

“They helped get the defense out of a hole,” star cornerback Xavien Howard said.

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On the final drive, the receivers did it together.

The game-winning drive started at the Dolphins’ 32 and began with a short pass to Waddle to go into the two-minute warning. Tagovailoa came out of the break and made another short throw to Hill and the 28-year-old did the rest, cutting back across the field, finding blockers and eventually getting around the edge of the defense for a 21-yard gain. Another 9-yard catch by Hill and a 28-yard run by running back Chase Edmonds moved Miami down to the Ravens’ 7, and Waddle finished the drive with a catch in traffic to stun the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.

It was exactly the sort of performance the Dolphins envisioned when they drafted Waddle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and then traded for Hill in March, pairing together two of the fastest wideouts in the NFL.

On Sunday, Baltimore’s defensive backs traveled a total of 6,131 yards on pass plays, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Hill and Waddle stretch the field, and stretch apart opposing defenses, outrunning defenders on long throws and creating space to create make room for their counterpart to make a play when the ball gets into his hands.

Miami has never had a tandem like this one because, simply, no one in the NFL ever has.

“We complement each other well,” Hill said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about either one of us. ... We know that there’s only one football. We’ve got one goal and that goal is to win.”