Story written by the Associated Press
With his Miami Dolphins leading by 27 points in the third quarter Sunday, coach Joe Philbin stomped along the sideline, angrily waving his fist and screaming in disagreement with an official's ruling. At the end of an emotional week, Philbin wasn't ready to let up. The Dolphins channeled their coach's intensity with impressive results Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 288 yards and three scores, and Miami forced four turnovers to rout the San Diego Chargers 37-0. Philbin missed two days of practice leading up to the game to be with his father, who died Friday in Massachusetts. Following a moment of silence for the elder Philbin before kickoff, the Dolphins won one for their third-year coach.
"I really have to give our assistant coaches and our players a ton of credit," Philbin said. "I kind of just showed up for the game."
Afterward, Philbin's shirt was soaked, thanks to a sports-drink dousing by his players.
"We promised him we would play our best game of the year, and we did that for him," guard Mike Pouncey said.
It was an inspired performance on behalf of a coach sometimes criticized for failing to inspire, and it bolstered Philbin's iffy job security. The Dolphins (5-3) earned their third consecutive victory as they began a stretch of four games in a row against playoff contenders.
"We're scratching the surface," Philbin said. "We certainly haven't put it all together yet."
The Chargers (5-4) remained winless in South Florida since January 1982, a stretch that includes eight consecutive losses to the Dolphins. A midseason swoon worsened with their third loss in a row, and their most lopsided defeat since 1996.
San Diego was shut out for the first time since 1999, while the Dolphins earned their first shutout since 2006. Every Miami victory this season has been by double digits, and this was the easiest yet -- and their most lopsided win since 1995.
Tannehill had a career-high passer rating of 125.6 when he called it a day after three quarters. He went 24 for 34 with no turnovers and threw touchdown passes to Charles Clay, Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry. He also ran for 47 yards on four carries. Meanwhile, Miami's front four dominated the Chargers' line, harrying Philip Rivers into a lost fumble and three interceptions, two to Brent Grimes. Rivers passed for only 138 yards and had a quarterback rating of 31.0, his lowest since 2007.
Rivers went to the bench for good late in the third quarter, and the Dolphins ended his Chargers-record streak of at least one touchdown pass in 28 consecutive games. The Dolphins, prone to slow starts this season, broke that habit and mounted touchdown drives of 77 and 61 yards on their first two possessions. Reshad Jones then intercepted Rivers to set up a field goal that made it 17-0 after just 21 minutes. The onslaught continued from there.
In the Dolphins' first seven possessions, the only time they didn't score was when Caleb Sturgis missed a 45-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Chargers safety Eric Weddle said he had the sense the Dolphins rallied around their coach. The final score could have been even more lopsided, but the Dolphins stalled four times inside the Chargers 10-yard line, and those possessions netted a total of only nine points.
"We're just tapping our potential," Tannehill said. "But words are cheap. You've got to go out and do it every week."
Things went wrong for the Chargers from the opening possession, when McCoy gambled by going for a first down on fourth and 1 at the Miami 22. Branden Oliver was stopped for a 1-yard loss, and Miami marched for a touchdown. That was the last time the Chargers crossed midfield.
On their next series, Rivers had a clear path to a first down on a third-down scramble but slid prematurely and came up inches short, and the Chargers had to punt. Then came his first interception, and the rout was on.
"That's an awesome game -- 37-0," Grimes said. "You don't see it that much in the NFL."