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Tyreek Hill believes Dolphins can learn from loss to Chiefs: 'We just can't be a bunch of front-runners'

Miami was held to a season-low seven points in Saturday night's wild-card loss to Kansas City, but the Dolphins are putting their best foot forward despite the disappointing exit.

Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill believes the Dolphins have the right core of players to reach their Super Bowl aspirations, but they have lessons to learn from the 26-7 defeat. 

"I feel in my heart that if this team were to come back together this is the right group of people to win," Hill told reporters after the game, via team transcript. "We got everything what it takes. You can see that the defense came along, and as an offense, we have to be able to put drives together and help those guys out. We just can't be a bunch of front-runners. Next year I feel like we'll learn from it."

Playing in one of the coldest games ever recorded in an NFL game, the high-powered Dolphins offense was put on ice. Miami mustered just 264 yards of total offense, struggled to move the chains (1 of 12 on third-down conversions) and failed to see a red-zone possession against the Chiefs. 

Tua Tagovailoa couldn't overcome a slow start that included a second-quarter interception which led to Kansas City securing a 10-0 lead. Without an effective rushing attack at his side, Tagovailoa was constantly under duress (two sacks, 16 pressures), seemed hesitant to throw the ball downfield and finished with a season-low 51.3 completion percentage (20-of-39 passing for 199 yards).

Hill, who scored Miami's only touchdown on a 53-yard heave by Tagovailoa, credits Chiefs cornerbacks for disrupting the Dolphins' offensive rhythm.

"They did a good job of getting hands on us at the line of scrimmage," Hill said. "Spags (Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo), he does a good job of telling his corners to not worry about anything over the top because they have safety help over the top, and DBs get hands on those fast guys. They do a great job of that. They got physical corners who do a good job of playing to their technique and playing sound. (L'Jarius) Sneed, (Trent) McDuffie, all of those guys do a great job over there. So shoutout to those guys."

The offensive woes on Saturday night were actually a continuation of late-season troubles seen by the Dolphins, who's 2023 campaign ends on a three-game losing streak. Tagovailoa owned a 66.5 passer rating during that stretch (105.4 passer rating in first 15 games) and Miami's most recent outings were a far cry from an offense that led the NFL in yards per game (401.3), passing yards per game (265.5) and finished second in points per game (29.2).

"I would say there's been a lot of ups and downs," Tagovailoa said of the 2023 season. "There were a lot of guys that started out the season with us and weren't able to finish the season with us. A lot of ups and downs with injuries. For our team, we never want to use any of those things as an excuse. We're not going to use that as an excuse. That's what I would say for how the year went, ups and downs."

Tagovailoa enjoyed a breakout season in 2023, producing career-highs in passing yards (4,624), touchdowns (29), completions (388) and completion percentage (69.3) to earn his first Pro Bowl bid. The 25-year-old proved he could not only effectively direct Mike McDaniel's innovative offense, but do so reliably, having made all 17 starts in 2023 after a year where injuries forced five games, including Miami's postseason appearance.

The stakes will be raised for Tagovailoa in 2024 as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. But when asked if he feels any added pressure given how his breakout season ended on a sour note, the Dolphins quarterback remained confident and expressed a desire to build off the positive strides that were made.  

"I don't feel any pressure at all," he said. "I have full trust in myself. I have full trust in what I'm capable of doing for our organization, but outside of that, we're focusing on tonight and what happened. We're going to simmer on this and see what we can do to get better from it for next year."

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