TYREEK HILL: The team’s performance in Sunday`s 36-34 opener over the Los Angeles Chargers suggests the extra work is paying off. Next up: another road game, at division rival New England on Sunday night. PHOTO COURTESY OF MIAMIDOLPHINS.COM

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Tyreek Hill was at a Miami bar during the preseason when Hall of Famer Dan Marino walked in.

“Hey, Reek, man, you`ve been doing a great job,” Hill recalled the former Dolphins quarterback saying. “You guys need to start meeting together. I used to do that with all my guys back in the day.”

Since then, Miami`s receivers have been getting together after practices to work on being in the right spots for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins` performance in Sunday`s opener suggests that extra work is paying off.

Hill had 215 yards on 11 receptions with a pair of touchdowns in a 36-34 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Tagovailoa passed for 466 yards and three TDs. Seven Dolphins players had at least two catches.

“Those two guys are a great example of not focusing on anything but their craft, ” coach Mike McDaniel said of Tagovailoa and Hill. “That’s the ultimate hope as a coach – all that time invested and those high standards that you’re holding yourself to – that`s rewarded. … They were on the same page for sure.”

Hill is coming off a 2022 season in which he set career highs in receptions (119) and yards (1,710) while acknowledging he hadn`t fully grasped McDaniel`s offense. He said he was mostly relying on athleticism and speed.

Now, after a full season in the Dolphins` system and a strong training camp, he can feel the difference.

“Everything is more fluid this year,” Hill said. “I was in my bag a little bit more on release moves and just routes at the top. That’s how I was able to get my first catch, I had a dagger. Last year we ran the same exact route, and I wasn’t open. But this year it’s a whole lot different because I know how to run it, and I know exactly how many steps I need to be at.”

McDaniel said all of Hill`s catches Sunday would have probably gone for half as much yardage a year ago.

“Understanding how to beat coverage is not something that we needed to teach him, ” McDaniel said, “but understanding when to separate and how to get the ball, that’s what he’s really majored in this year.”

That was a huge help for Hill`s connection with Tagovailoa, who targeted him 15 times.

Tagovailoa played in his first regularseason game since Week 16 last year. He missed Miami`s final three games because of a concussion, his second of 2022.

He made huge plays late to seal the win, including a clutch throw on thirdand- 10 when he hit Hill on a go route for a 47-yard completion. Tagovailoa found Hill in the end zone five plays later on a ball that he dropped into a tightly covered Hill`s hands for the decisive score.

Miami`s offense was formidable last year when Tagovailoa was healthy and connecting with his receivers on those kinds of plays. That connection alone could carry the Dolphins far in 2023.


McDaniel`s play-calling and game management put his team in position to answer every score by the Chargers. The coach decided to go for it on fourth and 7 at the Chargers 42, leading to a touchdown. He took a timeout with 14 seconds left in the first half before a Los Angeles field goal, and Miami used that time to make a kick of its own before halftime.

Despite a couple mishaps on the snap exchange between center Connor Williams and Tagovailoa, Miami`s offensive line, which was without star left tackle Terron Armstead, didn`t give up a sack against Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and the Chargers` defensive front.


The defense allowed the Chargers to convert 60% of their third downs and gave up 234 yards on the ground. The last time Miami gave up that many rushing yards was in Week 9 last year when the Bears ran for 252.


Tagovailoa. The fourth-year quarterback has been compared to Justin Herbert since they entered the league in 2020. Herbert was selected one pick after Tagovailoa and secured a megadeal this offseason, but Tagovailoa bested him Sunday. Only three players have passed for more yards in an opener than Tagovailoa`s 466, and it was the second time in the past two seasons that Tagovailoa passed for more than 450 yards and at least three touchdowns.


Williams had a few issues snapping the ball in the preseason, and it happened early in the opener. Problems with the quarterback-center exchange caused two fumbles on Miami`s opening drive. The latter happened on firstand-goal and gave the Chargers the ball at the 6. Williams was also flagged for holding, which wiped out a thirddown conversion.


The Dolphins didn`t report any injuries after the game.


3-0 – Tagovailoa`s record in Week 1 starts.