Tua Tagovailoa throws 3 TD passes to rally the Dolphins past the Panthers 42-21

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Tyreek Hill knows he has a fine coming for his touchdown celebration in Sunday’s 42-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. The NFL’s leading receiver — who caught one of Tua Tagovailoa’s three TD passes — said it was worth it.

After Miami (5-1) fell into an early 14-point hole, Hill flipped the lead back in the Dolphins’ favor with a 41-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. He celebrated by grabbing someone’s phone near the end zone and recorded himself doing a backflip. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for the second straight game.

“Being able to create memories that I can look back on when I’m done playing is always something I think of each and every time I play this game,” Hill said. “Every time I step on the field, I’m going to try to make it memorable.”

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The All-Pro receiver caught six passes for 163 yards to bring his NFL-leading season total to 814 yards receiving.

“You just know where he’s going to be,” Tagovailoa said. “Speed kills.”

Miami came from behind and scored 35 straight points before Mike White replaced Tagovailoa with about four minutes left and threw an interception that was returned by cornerback Troy Hill for a touchdown.

The play brought Carolina within 14, but Salvon Ahmed scored on a 9-yard run to give Miami, the NFL’s leading rushing team, 162 yards rushing for the day.

Tagovailoa finished 21 of 31 for 262 yards and has an NFL-leading 1,876 yards passing this season.

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The Panthers (0-6) took advantage of an uncharacteristicly slow Dolphins start with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Chuba Hubbard in the opening quarter. Then, Adam Thielen caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Young.

Young finished 23 of 38 with 217 yards and was sacked four times. The No. 1 overall pick remains winless, although his 85.1 QB rating was his highest in a game.

Thielen topped 100 yards receiving for the second straight game with 115 yards on 11 catches. Hubbard, starting for the injured Miles Sanders (shoulder) had 19 rushes for 88 yards. Eddy Pineiro missed a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter.

After going three-and-out on their first two drives, the Dolphins scored touchdowns on their next three.

“When they get hot, they’re tough to stop,” Panthers coach Frank Reich said. “They’ve got some big-time playmakers. I mean, Tyreek, when he hits that thing running, it looks different, and it feels different. You can watch that on film, but when you feel it on the field, he’s a difference maker.”

Raheem Mostert had a 3-yard touchdown catch that cut the early deficit in half — set up by catches of 27 and 14 yards by Hill and Jaylen Waddle, respectively. Waddle had 51 yards on seven catches.

Mostert had 17 carries for 115 yards, including a 48-yard run in the second quarter that set up the tying TD catch by Waddle.

Mostert took over as Miami’s lead ball carrier after rookie De’Von Achane was placed on injured reserve last week with a knee injury. He also had rushing scores of 1 and 4 yards for his fourth multiple-touchdown game of the season.

“The guy’s hungry for every opportunity,” coach Mike McDaniel said, “and I think you see his will in the way he runs the ball. Around the goalline, a lot of times, the perfect play doesn’t exist and it’s a battle of wills. He’s not a guy that a lot of people want to tackle.”

HALL OF FAME CELEBRATION
The Dolphins honored linebacker Zach Thomas at halftime. Thomas, a fifth-round pick by Miami 1996, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in August. Thomas had seven Pro Bowl selections during his career — the most all-time by a Dolphins defender — and five first-team All-Pro nominations. He was an honorary captain Sunday.

“I love you Miami,” Thomas said to the crowd of 65,529 at Hard Rock Stadium. “This is my home. I am a Miami Dolphin for life.”

RARE OCCURENCE
The Dolphins punted on their opening drive for the first time this season. Before Sunday, Miami had three touchdowns, a field goal and a fumble on their opening drives and had moved the ball inside the opponent’s 10 on every opening possesion.

FAKE PUNT
Up by 7 in the second quarter, Carolina ran a fake punt on fourth-and-8 at its 49. Duke Riley and Elijah Campbell forced Panthers receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. out of bounds just shy of the first-down marker, giving the Dolphins the ball with good field position. Miami scored three plays later.

INJURIES
Panthers: Shenault left in the second quarter with an ankle injury. … LB Yetur Gross-Matos left with a hamstring injury. … LB Frankie Luvu injured his hip.

Dolphins: Hill left briefly in the third because of cramping. … CB Xavien Howard left with a groin injury. … RB Chris Brooks was helped off the field in the fourth with a leg injury and immediately ruled out.

UP NEXT
After a bye week, the Panthers host the Houston Texans on Oct. 29.

The Dolphins visit Philadelphia next Sunday night.

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