The Miami Dolphins’ season is only nine games old — a little bit more than half a season — and already Tyreek Hill’s year is already one of the best ever for the franchise.
In nine games, the star wide receiver has 76 catches for 1,104 yards and three touchdowns — putting him on pace to rewrite both the Dolphins’ and NFL’s record books.
On Sunday, he even hits a few more historic marks. With more than 1,110 yards, Hill is only the 16th player in NFL history to top 1,000 receiving yards in his first nine games and he now stands alone with the most receiving yards ever in the first nine games of a season.
“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Hill said.
Hill went off again at Soldier Field, catching seven passes for 143 yards and a touchdown to help the Dolphins win a 35-32 shootout with the Chicago Bears. It was Hill’s fifth 100-yard game of the season and Miami (6-3) needed every one of them to survive an onslaught from Bears quarterback Justin Fields in Chicago.
It was also pretty much just par for the course for the 28-year-old wideout. The 143-yard performance was only Hill’s fifth biggest of the year and barely improved his per-game average, now up to 122.6 yards.
It all has him on pace to become the NFL’s first 2,000-yard receiver in his first season in South Florida.
“I’m just having fun,” he said.
Hill is now on pace for 2,085 receiving yards, which would break the NFL’s single-season record — currently held by former Detroit Lions superstar Calvin Johnson — of 1,964. The Pro Football Hall of Famer, of course, set the record in only 16 games rather than in the current 17-game schedule, but Hill has a real chance to beat Johnson in just 16 games, anyway: His current average would put him at 1,962 yards in a 16-game season.
At his current rate, Hill would also set the Dolphins’ single-season record in just 12 games. He currently sits at No. 12 on the franchise’s all-time list and could enter the top five as soon as next week.
Former wide receiver Mark Clayton currently holds Miami’s single-season record with 1,389 yards, set during the 1984 NFL season.
Hill’s current single-season best for receiving yards is 1,479, set during the 2018 NFL season.
Hill’s season has been transformational for the franchise and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — and, to an extent, Hill’s own legacy. For the first six years of his career, Hill was regarded as one of the best players in the NFL, but he was tied at the hip with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes as they powered the Kansas City Chiefs to a historic run of offensive success.
With Tagovailoa, Hill has been even better and helped solidify the 24-year-old status as Miami’s franchise quarterback. His 76 catches are already the third most in a single season in his career and he’s on pace to shatter his previous single-season best of 111 receptions, turning into the engine for a prolific offense rather than just a cog in one.
The Dolphins’ March trade for Hill — which cost five Draft picks, including a first- and second-rounder — has paid off.
Hill entered the week on pace to hit the 1,000-yard mark in Illinois and he wasted no time, catching three passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in the first half to send the Dolphins into the break with a 21-17 lead. By the end of the third quarter, he was up to six catches for 127 to pass former wide receiver Isaac Bruce for the most receiving in a first nine games in NFL history.
The Hall of Famer held the previous mark with 1,073 yards in the first nine games of the 1995 NFL season with the St. Louis Rams.
Hill’s sixth, history-making catch was especially important. Miami faced a third-and-7 at the Bears’ 31-yard line and was in danger of stalling out with Chicago (3-6) within three points. Instead, Hill faked inside, wiggled back toward the sideline and took off to create space for an 18-yard catch, and first down. Tagovailoa through a touchdown to running back Jeff Wilson Jr. — the decisive score — three plays later to give the Dolphins a 35-25 lead.
Fifteen of Tagovailoa’s 30 passes were intended for either Hill or fellow wide receiver Waddle, so a natural question after the game was, how many times can you throw the ball to them?
Hill has helped make the answer easy.
Said Tagovailoa: “However many times they can get open.”
This story was originally published November 6, 2022 2:31 PM.