Feels like a crime has been committed if you monitor the Eagles fan chat forums around Philly right now. “Fire Doug, fire Schwartz, fire Groh!!”…”Doug’s playcalling and abandoning the run with a 2 TD lead was criminal!”… and so on.
Doug Pederson should plead the Fitz…I mean, the Fifth Amendment…when attempting to explain this loss, as anything else he says would be self-incriminating. Fitz (QB Ryan Fitzpatrick) got hot. That’s all Doug really must say.
The result definitely was costly to the Eagles (5-7), who lost their third game in a row and missed a chance to pull into a tie with Dallas atop the NFC East.
Miami (3-9) scored three touchdowns in less than 13 minutes, a remarkable achievement for one of the NFL’s least respected offenses. That’s partly on the Eagles’ defense for perhaps getting a bit sloppy with a lead, but mostly on Fitzpatrick for rising to the occasion yet again against the Birds.
Pederson acknowledged that his team is now a long shot for a playoff berth, and that he’ll need to combat doubt in the locker room. “There will be a little bit of that,” he said. “We have to guard against that. We’re still a good team.”
Good teams don’t blow 14-point leads against the Dolphins.
Then there are the trick play issues.
Miami coach Brian Flores twice opted not to kick on fourth down and instead threw for a touchdown. The second such gamble by Flores paid off when Miami shifted out of field goal formation before holder Matt Haack threw an underhand 1-yard pass to kicker Jason Sanders.
The Eagles defense got caught flatfooted on the unexpected moves by Flores.
DeVante Parker did much of the rest. He finished with seven receptions for a career-high 159 yards and two scores, both on leaping grabs.
“Hats off to DeVante for the display he put on,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “That was special. When you’re throwing to a guy who is making plays like that, it’s easy to play quarterback.”
Parker’s final leaping grab was a 34-yard catch to set up the score that put the Dolphins ahead to stay with 11 minutes left.
Tight end Mike Gesicki also got into the act, soaring for a 14-yard touchdown catch. Fitzpatrick’s surehanded targets helped him finish 27 for 39 for 365 yards and three touchdowns as Miami achieved season highs in points and yards (408).
Sanders returned to his usual role to kick a 51-yard field goal with 3:37 left that made the score 37-28. The Eagles kicked a field goal with 1:51 left and got the ball back, but Carson Wentz’s desperation pass from midfield on the final play was intercepted in the end zone.
Wentz threw for three touchdowns to help build a 28-14 lead, but the Eagles were kept out of the end zone over the final 26 minutes.
“We self-destructed in a couple areas today, and it just hurt us,” Pederson said. “And we didn’t make enough plays; they made ’em, we didn’t.”
The Eagles committed 10 penalties for 91 yards and were 1-for-4 on third-down conversions down the stretch, stalling several drives.
The defense yielded 409 yards to a Dolphins team that ranked 30th in total offense (256 yards per game) and points per game (14.8) coming in.
Safety Rodney McLeod said multiple times that the defense “let our guard down” following a strong start.
“You don’t want to be Captain Obvious. We didn’t f—ing play well,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins, when asked if he will say something to the team this week about its performance. “You know that. There is no need to beat a dead horse. Figure out what it is, watch the tape like you would any other day, go back to work.”
The Eagles have lost three in a row, but with all four games remaining being in-division, including a Dec. 22 home game against the first-place Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia still has a path to the playoffs.
According to Tim McManus of ESPN, this loss “was the worst of the coach Doug Pederson era — a kind of defeat that has the ability to splinter a locker room, and one that will test this team’s leadership group with four games left. Facing a stripped-down 2-9 Miami team and with a clear path to the NFC East title right in front of them, the Eagles choked.”
Familiar issues appeared on offense, such as drops (the one by tight end Zach Ertz near the goal line late in the third quarter was a killer) and bad penalties.
The good news is that the Eagles (5-7) remain just a game back of the Dallas Cowboys (6-6) and, with a home game against Dallas looming, still somehow control their own destiny.
INJURIES: Dolphins: running back Kalen Ballage left in the second quarter with a left leg injury and didn’t return.
Eagles: Linebacker Nigel Bradham was evaluated for a head injury and cleared to return. Alshon Jeffery had a nice game but was visibly limping at the end of the game.
|Passing 1st downs||19||19|
|Rushing 1st downs||3||3|
|1st downs from penalties||1||4|
|3rd down efficiency||7-14||5-12|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||3-3|
|Yards per Play||5.8||6.5|
|Yards per pass||6.1||8.2|
|Yards per rush||4.8||2.9|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-4||4-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|