The Dolphins held serve at home, yet again, producing the best 17-game win total in the history of Hard Rock Stadium. The last time the Dolphins had a stretch of 15 up to just two down occurred when the team resided in the Orange Bowl (1983-1986).
Miami did it with a complete team win in a route of the Panthers. They were in the air, they were on the ground and after a slow first quarter, they were always in control.
These are the three takeaways from the Dolphins' 42-21 win over the Panthers
1. Raheem Runs Angry
The superlatives around this Dolphins team are bordering on absurd, perhaps no more than the accomplishments and projections for 31-year-old running back Raheem Mostert.
Mostert's 11 touchdowns are most in the National Football League and puts him on pace for 30 over 17 games. By rattling off 429 yards on 75 carries this season, Mostert's career average sits at 5.42 yards per rush – better than any running back in NFL history with 500 attempts.
Everyone knows about Mostert's 4.3 speed – the same speed that made him a Big Ten champion in both the 100- and 200-meters competitions. Allow Head Coach Mike McDaniel to explain the part we'll cover next.
"The guy is hungry for every opportunity, and I think you see his will in the way he runs the ball," McDaniel said. "Down around the goal line, a lot of times the perfect play doesn't exist, and it's a battle of wills, and he's not a guy that a lot of people want to tackle."
To quantify McDaniel's claim, Mostert is one of five backs in the NFL who've forced more than 20 missed tackles (21). His 3.40 yards after initial contact are fifth among qualifying backs (per Pro Football Focus).
2. Tua to Cheetah
Cut and paste it every single week – this is the most electrifying quarterback-wide receiver combination in the NFL. Tua Tagovailoa leads the NFL in just about every category. He's also thrown for more yards than any QB in Dolphins history through six games (1,876).
Aiding Tua's statistical assault on the league is wide receiver Tyreek Hill, whose 814 receiving are the most through six games in the Super Bowl era. Hill's 41-yard touchdown reception put him on top of the leaderboard with six scores in 2023.
"Having someone like him that anytime you get press, there's a possible signal you can give him or there's a possible eye contact deal that you can give him, working through those things in practice and having those conversations, that's what this past two years has done for quarterback to receiver, that sort of relationship," Tagovailoa said.
Tagovailoa finished 21 of 31 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. His current pace is for 5,315 passing yards and would be the most in team history. Hill caught six passes for 163 yards and the touchdown. It was the 13th game in Hill's career with at least 150 yards receiving, tying Calvin Johnson for the third-most in the first eight seasons of an NFL career.
Miami's pass blocking kept Tagovailoa upright for another game. He's been sacked only six times in six games. Opposing pass rushers sack the Miami quarterback on just three percent of his drop-backs, the second-lowest rate in the NFL.
3. Eight Consecutive Scoreless Drives on Defense
After a slow start, Miami put the clamps on the Panthers offense. Following a pair of touchdowns on possessions No. 2 and 3, the Dolphins kept Carolina off the scoreboard on eight consecutive drives to close it out.
Miami got it going with the interior pass rush collapsing the pocket. Christian Wilkins picked up two sacks to match his best friend, Zach Sieler, who had two a week ago. Sieler also picked up a sack this week to give him four on the season. For Sieler, that matches his career-high while Wilkins, with 3.5 sacks, is now just one sack away from matching his career-best.
Bradley Chubb started things on the second play of the game with his second sack of the season. In total, Miami now has the third-most sacks in the NFL with 21, and their 49 QB hits are tops in the league.
The defense started the season making key plays in critical moments to notch victory. The last two weeks, the Dolphins defense has surrendered just two touchdowns and produced 11 QB sacks.
For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.