Instant Observations: Eagles-Dolphins
Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 20-19 loss to the Dolphins:
Sam Bradford injured his left shoulder and suffered a concussion in the third quarter when he was sacked by linebacker Chris McCain. The x-rays on his shoulder were negative. He was replaced by Mark Sanchez, who went 13-of-22 for 150 yards with an interception.
Sanchez made a number of plays but also committed a costly error, throwing an interception to Reshad Jones in the end zone late in the game that extinguished a promising drive. Trailing by one, the Eagles needed just a field goal on that possession to move ahead.
*The Dolphins registered four sacks and 10 quarterback hits against a shaky Eagles offensive line that was operating without Jason Peters for a second straight week.
*The Eagles scored on each of their first two possessions before going ice cold. The next seven drives went like this:
Missed Field Goal
Sanchez got the offense moving early in the fourth thanks to a pair of big throws, including a 15-yarder to Zach Ertz that the tight end made a fine finer-tip grab on. Sanchez nearly connected on TD passes twice in that drive. His toss to Miles Austin in the back of the end zone was ruled out of bounds, and a touchdown to Ertz was called back due to offsetting penalties. They settled for a field goal to make it 20-19 Dolphins.
*Brent Celek rumbled for a 60-yard pick-up on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage. The veteran tight end lined up on the left side of the formation and darted across the middle into open space. Bradford hit him in stride and Celek took off for the longest reception since 2001. Those over routes were quite effective for the tight ends all half and in particular for Celek, who had four grabs for 134 yards.
*Nelson Agholor returned to action and had three catches for 32 yards.
*The offensive front had trouble handling Ndamukong Suh, who had three tackles for a loss and three quarterback hits.
*Bad sequence midway through the third. A blown play led to a Bradford sack on second down before Jason Kelce sailed a snap high past the quarterback to squash the drive. This was not the first time Kelce has struggled with his snaps this season.
*With Peters out a second consecutive game with back issues, Lane Johnson started at left tackle and Kelly at right.
*Ryan Mathews left the game to be evaluated for a head injury. Jordan Matthews was absolutely crushed after hauling in an ill-advised pass from Sanchez and absorbing a blow from Jamar Taylor but returned to action.
*Heads up play by Bradford and Dennis Kelly late in the half. After Miami forced a fumble deep in Eagles territory, Olivier Vernon scooped it up and rumbled towards the end zone. Kelly knocked it loose, though, and Bradford fell on it to maintain possession.
*Nolan Carroll came up with a big third-down break-up on a pass intended for Kenny Stills with 6:37 remaining in the third, forcing a punt with Miami backed up near the Eagles goal line. The offense took over near midfield. It moved within striking distance before Sanchez threw the pick to Jones.
*The Eagles special teams unit had a couple costly letdowns. Donnie Jones had a second-quarter punt attempt blocked by Zach Vigil, who pushed Chris Maragos into the backfield to make the play. That led to a Dolphins score two plays later.
Caleb Sturgis missed a 32-yard field goal attempt wide right early in the second quarter against his former team. He had hit 11 of his last 12 coming in.
*A well-timed block by receiver Rishard Matthews on Ryans sprang Lamar Miller for a 13-yard receiving touchdown down the left side late in the half.
*Malcolm Jenkins drew Jarvis Landryat times and held up well. Jenkins, coming off a concussion, also made a key play on third down late in the first, cutting tight end Cameron Jordan down short of the sticks to force a punt.
*Ryans and Mychal Kendricks got the start at inside linebacker. Kendricks and Kiko Alonso were in when the Eagles went to nickel.
*Byron Maxwell with a clutch pass-break-up in the end zone on a ball intended for Kenny Stills midway through the second quarter. Landry caught a ball on the very next play, though, to set up first-and goal. A batted ball by Connor Barwin and near interception by Jenkins around the goal line forced the Dolphins to settle for a field goal.
*Walter Thurmond came clean off the right side and absolutely crushed an unsuspecting Ryan Tannehill in the end zone for the safety in the first. Thurmond has two sacks on the season to go with three interceptions. Credit Billy Davis for dialing up some effective blitzes against Miami’s shaky line, including one that led to a Kendricks blindside takedown..
*Fletcher Cox got his career-high sixth sack of the season on Miami’s first offensive possession. He blew past center Mike Pouncey to drop Tannehill. Vinny Curry came off the edge and also got a piece of the quarterback on his way down.
*Bennie Logan continues to disrupt plays in the backfield. He went unblocked on second down on Miami’s opening drive and dropped Lamar Miller for a three-yard loss.