Tua Tagovailoa tossed two touchdowns and improved to 3-0 as a starter in leading the host Miami Dolphins past the Los Angeles Chargers 29-21 on Sunday afternoon.
Miami (6-3) won its fifth straight game as Tagovailoa completed 15 of 25 passes for 169 yards and no interceptions.
Tagovailoa outdueled fellow rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who was selected sixth in the 2020 NFL Draft -- one spot after Tagovailoa.
The Chargers (2-7) are in last place in the AFC West, and Herbert is 1-7 as a starter. Herbert completed 20-of-32 for 187 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard came up with a game-changing interception in the fourth quarter. It was his fifth pick of the season, tied for the NFL lead.
Jason Sanders, who had his made field-goal streak of 22 snapped in the second half, made 3 of 4 kicks for Miami.
Undrafted rookie running back Salvon Ahmen rushed 21 times for 85 yards and a touchdown for the Dolphins.
The Chargers got 102 scrimmage yards from Kalen Ballage (68 rushing, 34 receiving), a former Dolphins running back who was cut by Miami and the New York Jets in September.
Miami scored on its first offensive play, a one-yard run by Ahmed for his first NFL score. Itt was set up by a blocked punt as Chargers punter Ty Long bobbled the snap, Andrew Van Ginkel made a diving block, and Miami's Jamal Perry recovered.
The Dolphins made it 14-0 with 1:01 left in the first quarter as Tagovailoa threw a three-yard bullet to Jakeem Grant. Miami had settled for a field goal earlier in the drive, but their drive continued after a Los Angeles penalty.
Miami was at the Chargers nine-yard line, driving for possible second-quarter touchdown when Tagovailoa couldn't handle the snap under center. Linebacker Nick Vigil scooped up the fumble and rumbled 44 yards.
That led to Herbert's one-yard quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-goal, cutting Miami's lead to 14-7.
The Dolphins went into halftime with a 17-7 lead as Sanders hit a 50-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in the second quarter.
In the third, Los Angeles closed its deficit to 20-14, getting Herbert's two-yard toss to tight end Hunter Henry while Miami countered with Sanders' 35-yard field goal.
In the fourth, the Chargers were at their own 45 when Howard intercepted Herbert and returned it to the Los Angeles 32. That led to Tagovailoa's 2-yard TD pass to Durham Smythe for a 26-14 lead.
Los Angeles pulled to within 29-21 with 1:57 left after Herbert hit Keenan Allen with a 13-yard touchdown but never got the ball back.
--Field Level Media
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