The third-round pick amassed 233 total yards and four touchdowns in his first significant role, including 203 rushing yards on 18 carries. Whether he had more total yards or notifications on his phone was a question posed to him following the game.
“Oh, notifications for sure,” he said with a smile before darting out of the news conference room.
The Dolphins amassed 726 yards in one of the most lopsided games in NFL history as the top offense in the league went crazy at home. Since Washington scored 72 points against the New York Giants in 1966, no NFL team has scored more points than they did with their final tally, which set a new franchise record.
The Dolphins gained a total of 350 rushing yards compared to 376 passing yards, averaging 10.2 yards per play.
The Dolphins are the second team in NFL history to record more than 700 yards of offense since the Rams did so in 1951 and the first team to accomplish so in the same game with five passing touchdowns and five running scores.
According to ESPN Stats & Information analysis, they are also only the second team in history to accumulate 300 running yards and 300 passing yards. They are also the first team to ever score 70 points with 700 yards of offense.
“That’s a lot of players executing a lot of things to a standard that’s unrelenting,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “When you have a lead — so many leads are vulnerable in this league. So we’d talked at length all offseason just about adversity and sometimes adversity is having a two-score lead, because you can let the atmosphere dictate your product.
So what I saw from a lot of guys … that’s guys really taking it to heart that we have one [opportunity] with this team in 2023, and we’re going to make the most of it and be unrelenting with our standards.
“I’ve said it time and time again that it’s an incredibly coachable locker room and they definitely earned that victory.”
Before being replaced one play into the fourth quarter, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed his first 17 throws and finished 23 of 26 for 309 yards and four touchdowns. He had only three incomplete passes and the Dolphins had only two failed drives when he departed the field.
On a day replete with standout performances, the NFL’s leading passer had one of his own in the second quarter when he threw a no-look shovel pass with his right hand to Achane for a 4-yard score. Tagovailoa is left-handed.
“This doesn’t compare to anything that I’ve seen or been a part of,” Tagovailoa said. “It just talks about the resilience of our team. Although we were up going into halftime, I’m very proud of the guys and the way they continued to play. No one took their foot off the gas, everyone continued to play and that’s the result that we got.”
On the third play from scrimmage, Tagovailoa connected with Tyreek Hill for a 54-yard score, setting off their historic day. With the exception of the play they ran to finish the first half, they went on to score on 10 of their first 12 offensive drives. Miami had a chance to break the single-game scoring record when it faced a fourth-and-14 with 33 seconds left, as the surviving home crowd yelled for “three more points!”
Instead, McDaniel instructed Mike White, the Broncos’ backup quarterback, to kneel the ball from the team’s 28-yard line. Despite the strong protests of the crowd, McDaniel persisted in his choice.
“It felt like chasing points and chasing a record, that’s not what we came to the game to do,” he said. “That doesn’t have a bearing on the overall season outcome and I just didn’t — I saw it as 10 times out of 10 you kneel down in those situations because there was an attainable record that was cool, but the message that I thought it would send wasn’t really in line with how I view things.
“It would’ve been cool, but with what we’re trying to do, I think that would be talking out of both sides of my mouth. If we went and tried to send the field goal team on and squeeze an extra three, it’s not really what I’m about.”
Tagovailoa said the NFL is about “respect” and the Dolphins weren’t trying to “go out and humiliate teams,” while McDaniel said he has the full backing of the team’s executives.
Raheem Mostert, the league’s leading season rusher, finished the game with 142 total yards and four combined touchdowns, surpassing his season total from 2022 (three) and moving up to six. Mostert is on pace to pass his 891 and eight career-high marks from 2022 and 2019, respectively, with 1,360 yards and 34 touchdowns.
He and Achane became the first teammates to ever register four rushing touchdowns in the same game.
It’s impressive that Miami’s offense managed to succeed without wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who was unable to pass the concussion protocol, even though Hill hauled in nine passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
“We always have the next-guy mentality going, but when we do have Jaylen Waddle, it does present a lot more challenges for defenses,” Tagovailoa said. “But needless to say, we’ve got our run game going. We had our deal with our pass game, our action game. I’m very proud of the guys and the way they came out.”
The Dolphins’ defense gave up 363 yards and 6.2 yards per play, but they also pressed quarterback Russell Wilson 20 times, leading to three fumbles and one sack. Denver (3-0) was also limited to only three third-down conversions in 12 tries.
Wilson only had three games of 300-yard throwing in a Broncos uniform, completing 23 of 38 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The nine-time Pro Bowler stated the squad wanted to learn from this game but not necessarily dwell on it much longer.
“From a leadership standpoint, I think the biggest thing we have to do is learn everything that we can from the film,” he said. “Learn what we did well. Learn what we didn’t do so well. Learn that every game has a history of its own. … That was one we want to put in — not think about anymore, but we have to learn from it still.
“We hadn’t experienced that one before. But like I said, every game has a history of its own. And what we have to do is we have to be focused on what’s ahead of us, and that’s trying to get ready to go play the Chicago Bears on the road.”
Miami, which has a perfect record under McDaniel and has begun 3-0 in back-to-back seasons, will face the Bills in an AFC East matchup in Buffalo in Week 4.