Defense steps up late, Dolphins top Chargers to extending winning streak
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was on the sideline telling his offensive teammates to get ready to go back in if the San Diego Chargers scored in the final minute.
Turns out it was the Dolphins who would score, on Kiko Alonso’s electrifying 60-yard interception return with 1:01 left that gave them a 31-24 victory Sunday, their fourth straight.
"Two weeks in a row, to have a defensive and a special teams touchdown to take the lead is huge," Tannehill said.
Last week, Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 96 yards with 5:15 left for a 27-23 victory over the New York Jets.
Alonso deked Philip Rivers into thinking he was going to cover a slot receiver, then broke off, jumped in front of Tyrell Williams for the interception and outraced everyone to the end zone.
"Maybe he was expecting me to go up the seam," Alonso said.
He didn’t. Once he had the ball, all Alonso needed to do was outrun Williams for the score.
"I mean, that’s my first touchdown on defense ever, like high school, college," he said. "I felt good."
The Dolphins (5-4) intercepted Rivers four times in a 13-minute span in the fourth quarter.
San Diego, which had a 10-point lead in the second quarter, fell to 4-6.
Here are some things to know about the Dolphins’ win:
First-year coach Adam Gase has instilled a different mindset coming off a 6-10 season.
"I think it’s just a belief in each other," Tannehill said. "There’s no panic if things don’t go well, especially in the last month. We’ve seen guys face adversity and we just keep fighting. There’s been a few games where we’ve been down 10-plus points, but on the sideline you can’t tell that we’re down."
WEST COAST WEEK
Since the Dolphins are playing at the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, they’re staying this week in Carlsbad in northern San Diego County. That gave receiver Kenny Stills a chance to show some teammates where he went to high school and to make a special visit. "I got to see my dog for the first time in like a year and a half," said Stills, who stayed in Miami last offseason to work out.
Stills, who went to La Costa Canyon High, caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill in the second quarter.
Rivers tied his career high with the four picks.
"Obviously it can’t happen down in there," Rivers said. "There were two of them when we were fixing to score, and then obviously the last one there with a chance to win the game with a field goal. The guy made a great play."
He also threw three touchdown passes to move past John Elway for eighth place on the career list with 301.
Rivers’ 51-yard touchdown pass to Williams with 4:04 left gave the Chargers a 24-21 lead.
Rivers threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead. It was the 82nd time those two connected, extending their NFL record for a quarterback-tight end duo. Gates needs two TD catches to tie Tony Gonzalez’s NFL record for touchdown grabs by a tight end (111).
Damien Williams scored on a 2-yard run and on an 18-yard pass from Tannehill. Jay Ajayi ran for 79 yards, ending his streak of three straight 100-yard games, but he had big runs to set up two touchdowns by Williams.
The Chargers blew a great opportunity to jump back into the lead after Jakeem Grant muffed a punt and Darrell Stuckey recovered it at the Miami 5. The Chargers had five chances from the 5 or closer — thanks a holding call against Byron Maxwell — and ended up with Rivers being intercepted by Lippett in the end zone after forcing a pass into double coverage.
After Miami went three-and-out, Rivers gave it right back when he was intercepted by Byron Maxwell with 6:49 to go. The Dolphins failed to capitalize.
Losing this way was like a shot "under the chin," Stuckey said. "It’s a tough one. We’ve got to find a way to take advantage of opportunities we get. It’s the same old, same old story every time, for us, not taking advantage of opportunities."
- Andrew Franks
- Byron Maxwell
- Damien Williams
- DeVante Parker
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- FOX Sports Florida - Dolphins
- Jakeem Grant
- Jay Ajayi
- Kenny Stills
- Kiko Alonso
- Mario Williams
- Miami Dolphins
- Ryan Tannehill