The Dolphins lost the game after Reggie Hunt returned the overtime kickoff 72 yards to set up Cedric Oglesby's 33-yard field goal. Hunt only got a chance to return the kickoff because an offside penalty on the Dolphins nullified Olindo Mare's first effort, which went through the end zone for a touchback.
The Dolphins had a chance to win in regulation, but Mare was wide right on a 58-yard field goal attempt with 23 seconds left.
But what mattered most on this night wasn't the outcome so much as it was the team's ability to hit some deep throws after throwing virtually nothing but short passes in the first two preseason games.
"We came out here and wanted to work on getting some deep balls right now," McKnight said. "We threw the ball around and just made plays. That's what this offense is all about. We knew what we were going to do with the run and we've just got to continue to do this every week."
The bomb to McKnight highlighted another strong effort by Fiedler. He completed 9 of 10 passes for 133 yards with two touchdowns, 7-yarders to Oronde Gadsden and Jeff Ogden.
The one pass he missed was intercepted by Chargers cornerback Tay Cody after it was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
For the preseason, Fiedler is now 17-of-21, a remarkable completion percentage of over 80 percent.
When asked if he felt he was close to being ready for the regular season, Fiedler said, "I feel sharp. I feel great. I think I'm ready to go now."
Fiedler's performance helped the Dolphins carry a 17-10 lead into halftime, but the Chargers rallied to take a 20-17 lead behind rookie Drew Brees' 28-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Gaylor in the third quarter and Oglesby's 19-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The field goal was set up by a 49-yard screen pass from Brees to Mukala Sikyala.
The Dolphins answered that score by driving 66 yards and tying the game on Mare's 23-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was a 36-yard pass-interference penalty on cornerback Fakhir Brown, who was trying to keep Robert Baker from catching yet another long Dolphins.
While the Dolphins defense had its problems in the second half, the Dolphins held the Chargers to only 111 total yards in the first two quarters — despite the fact the Dolphins' first-team defense finally showed some vulnerability this preseason.
After holding San Diego to a combined 8 yards in the Chargers' first two drives, the Dolphins gave up a touchdown drive of 80 yards.
But other than that, it was another strong outing, even though the Dolphins pass rush wasn't able to produce a sack in the first half after getting three against both St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
The offense, meanwhile, began its fireworks on the Dolphins' second possession after they took over at their 20-yard line.
On first-and-10, Fiedler slipped while throwing the ball, but McKnight was so wide open down the middle of the field that it didn't matter. By the time McKnight finally was tackled he had gained 72 yards, all the way to the San Diego 8-yard line.
Two plays later, Gadsden made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone to give the Dolphins a 7-0 lead. The touchdown capped an 80-yard drive that took only three plays.
The lead didn't last long, however, as the Chargers answered with a three-play, 80-yard drive of their own.
The drive began with a 37-yard pass from Doug Flutie to Curtis Conway, who got behind Ben Kelly down the right sideline. After Flutie connected with tight end Steve Heiden for a 22-yard pass play across the middle, Ronney Jenkins took a handoff on a draw play and ran 21 yards for the tying score.
"Defensively, it was a great lesson to be learned, as far as how quickly things can flip," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "We had two series of three-and-out, and they hit two plays on us and get it into the end zone. We learned a lesson there on defense."
On the Dolphins' ensuing possession, Fiedler hit McKnight on a wide receiver screen. McKnight fumbled, and Chargers linebacker Junior Seau recovered at the Miami 26-yard line.
The Dolphins stopped San Diego on three plays, thanks in large part to Kelly dropping Jenkins for a 6-yard loss on a sweep, and forced the Chargers to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Wade Richey.
The Dolphins came right back behind Fiedler's passing and a couple of key running plays.
On a third-and-4 from the Miami 31, Denson took a direct snap from center Tim Ruddy and ran 12 yards for a first down. Fiedler passes of 12 yards to Chambers and 19 yards to McKnight preceded a nifty 23-yard run by Lamar Smith that gave the Dolphins a first-and-goal at the San Diego 7.
On the next play, Fiedler hit a wide-open Ogden across the middle for a touchdown.
Lucas' 41-yard pass to Chambers, who made a diving catch after getting behind cornerback Ryan McNeil, set up Miami's next score, a 25-yard field goal by Mare.
The Dolphins missed an opportunity to pad their lead late in the first half when Mare pushed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide right. It was the third miss of the preseason for Mare, who missed three kicks in 31 attempts during the 2000 regular season.