The Miami Dolphins traveled on the road to face another one-loss team. They faced an offense that can be just as productive as their own in different ways and a defense that is one of the top units in the NFL. Miami lost. That shouldn't be as upsetting as many fans are making it out to be.
The Eagles have one of the best defensive fronts in the entire NFL and they are one of the best against the run. Last night, they took care of the Dolphins run game and put pressure on Tua Tagovailoa. We expected this.
What we didn't expect a couple of weeks ago is that the Dolphins would face the Eagles with a backup left tackle who has played very well this year, a backup center who replaced one of the top 5 statistical centers in the league, and we didn't anticipate losing a starting left guard midway through the first half.
Yet the Dolphins managed to keep Tua Tagovailoa upright for most of the game. Tua was sacked four times on the night, one of them was a non-contact bad snap sack that Tua took on a busted play. The others came late in the game when Miami had to push the ball downfield. Another was credited against Cedrick Wilson on a poorly timed and executed trick play.
The Eagles are one of the league-leading teams in sacks so why should we be upset given the circumstances? The Eagles are ranked 3rd in the NFL. Miami? They are ranked 4th in sacks, despite not having Jaelan Phillips all year.
Yes, the Eagles WRs put up some good statistical numbers Sunday night. They did so against Eli Apple, Kader Kohou, Parry Nickerson, and Elijah Campbell. While A.J. Brown was held in check most of the first half, he exploded in the 2nd and finished with 137 yards on 10 receptions.
For the Dolphins, the bigger issue was stopping Dallas Goedert who had 77 yards receiving and many of them at critical times. Of course, Miami, like most other teams couldn't stop the continued "tush-push" 4th down play.
Offensively the Miami Dolphins simply left too many points on the board and that ultimately will cost a team wins.
For three quarters the defense played well but there wasn't much help from the offense. Not all the time and eventually those mistakes caught up.
Miami had an early game touchdown pass wiped out by a holding call on Liam Eichenberg. Eichenberg got his arm around the chest of a defender and was flagged. That led to a Dolphins field goal instead.
Later, the Dolphins set up a perfect pass to Tyreek Hill who would have walked into the endzone on the slant but after getting the ball in his hands, his knee knocked it out for an incompletion. That would have put Miami in a good position late in the game as momentum was shifting.
Tua Tagovailoa threw an interception just outside of the redzone and had he been a little more careful under that pressure, the Dolphins, at worst would have settled for a field goal.
On the night, there were a few dropped passes and some questionable play calls but it seemed the Dolphins were struggling with the defensive scheme that the Eagles threw at them. Without being able to run the ball (see above) Miami became, again, one-dimensional and the Eagles were forcing Miami to play that kind of game.
Last night was a battle between two very good teams and while the narrative this week will likely return to Tua can't win the bigger games, the reality is Miami is winning the games they are supposed to and competing in the tough ones although you could argue they didn't against the Bills.
The Dolphins have a lot of games ahead of them and some tough teams on their schedule but if we learned anything from last night, health does play a role in those tougher games. Miami is winning against bad teams, while injured. They are going to find it tough to win games like last night when they were banged up badly.
At least the Dolphins are not the Bills who almost got beat by the one-win Giants and then lost to the one-win Patriots.
For all the ups and downs of Sunday night, the game was an out of conference game that will have little bearing on tie-breakers late in the season and the Dolphins still remain the top team in the AFC East.