Miami Vice. Bad Boys. LeBron and D-Wade. Step aside, Miami has a new power couple in town. Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill made history in Week 1 as Tagovailoa's 466 yards passing were the fourth-most in a season opener ever and Hill's 215 yards receiving were the third-most ever to open a season.
The tandem delivered a few lightning bolts to power an electrifying 36-34 win over the Chargers in the game of the week. Tua was 4 of 5 for 139 yards and a touchdown targeting Hill on passes 20-plus yards downfield on Sunday, tied for the most deep balls caught in Hill's illustrious career. It was also more deep balls than any single team connected on in Week 1. Hill was responsible for four of the 33 deep catches in Week 1, or a staggering 12 percent of the NFL's total.
In a league where home runs are harder to hit and more teams are hitting "singles," it was refreshing to see Tua and Tyreek go to work.
As Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine would say, "Chicks Dig the Long Ball." If you don't remember the funny 1999 Nike commercial with two Hall-of-Fame pitchers trying to power up like Mark McGwire, you missed out. There's a universal truth there that applies to all sports. We love big plays, or "home runs," and lucky for us, Tagovailoa and Hill have been connecting on a lot of them.
Tagovailoa is 21 of 34 for 722 yards targeting Hill on passes 20-plus yards downfield as teammates, all the most by any QB-receiver duo since the start of last season. They've actually connected on more of those deep passes than ten teams since the start of last year, and that's with Tua missing four games.
Completions of 20+ air yards since start of 2022
|Duos / Teams||Total|
Tua Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill
In terms of both total expected points added (+47.1) and EPA per play (+1.39) on deep balls, the combo also leads the NFL in that span, with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson a distant second in both categories (+35.9 and +1.28, respectively).
Tua to Tyreek: 20+ air yards since start of 2022
EPA per play
They aren't a one-trick pony, but like a champion boxer they can jab, jab, jab, jab to set up the haymaker. They are the only QB-receiver duo in the NFL with a 70 percent completion rate and 10-plus yards per attempt in their short tenure together. It's clear though, the deep ball is what makes them special, especially in the clutch.
Tagovailoa is 10 of 14 with six touchdowns targeting Hill on throws 20-plus yards downfield in the second halves of games. That's an utterly ridiculous completion percentage of 71.4.
It wasn't expected to always look this easy. After the Dolphins traded for Hill there were plenty of questions about Tua's arm strength and if Hill made the right decision to leave Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense.
They made an immediate splash though in their second game as teammates back in 2022. Tua connected with Tyreek on two deep touchdown passes in the final quarter to fuel Miami's historic 21-point fourth-quarter comeback in Baltimore. Tagovailoa completed two passes traveling 40-plus air yards in that fourth quarter to Hill, as many completions as he had in his first two seasons combined without Hill.
It was quite the coming-out-party as they quickly proved they would be one of the league's most exciting and dangerous duos, something they reminded us of again on Sunday.
One of the surprising elements to their success is how much more productive Hill has been hitting home runs with Tua compared with Mahomes and others. The Cheetah is clearly the key ingredient here, but his production on deep balls with Tua pretty much blows Mahomes out of the water in terms of EPA per play (1.39 vs 0.83), catches per game (1.40 vs 0.81) and catch percentage (62 percent vs 41 percent).
Tyreek Hill: Success rate on 20+ air yard passes
All other QBs
It's hard to be better at anything than the best quarterback in the world, but they are doing it thanks to Hill's track speed, Mike McDaniel's offense and Tua's precision, plus timing.
On Wednesday, Tua offered a comical response to a question by reporters on whether he thinks anyone still questions his deep ball, per ProFootballTalk.
"I don't care," he said with a laugh. "I mean, I don't care. 466 is — that's what 466 is. If I can't throw deep, thanks."
It's true, it really doesn't matter how he does it, but it sure would be fun to see Tua and Tyreek continue to connect like they did on Sunday. It also won't be easy as they head to Foxboro in Week 2 to face Bill Belichick's defense, one known for taking away an opponent's top weapon.
Since Hill entered the league, the Patriots have allowed the lowest completion percentage on deep balls and are the only defense to be in the positive in terms of expected points added on such plays.
Hill torched the Patriots early in his career, hauling in a 75-yard touchdown in each of his first two games against the Patriots back in 2017 and 2018. But, it's been tough sledding ever since. They've held him under 100 yards in five straight matchups and have only allowed one 30-plus yard gain in that span.
Tyreek Hill: Career vs. Patriots (including playoffs)
|First Two Games||Last Five Games|
Hill said in July that he would break 2,000 yards receiving this season. He appears well on his way thanks to his chemistry with his quarterback. A big performance against a tough defense on Sunday, and a home run or two would be another step toward making that bold prediction come true.