Eagles Key Plays: How They Happened
The Eagles scored twice, allowed two touchdowns and turned the ball over once in their 20-19 loss to the Dolphins. Here’s how it all happened.
The play: Sam Bradford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Josh Huff on third down.
How it happened: This was a big play by Bradford to elude the unblocked pass rusher and keep the play alive on 3rd-and-goal. Coaches sometimes cringe when quarterbacks run one way and throw the ball back across their body to the middle of the field, but this was a good decision. Huff was wide open, made a great catch and was smart in his approach after the play broke down, as he detailed below.
Bird’s-eye view: “I tried to get in Sam’s vision; that’s essential as a route runner, especially when he’s scrambling,” Huff said. “Throughout the whole week, I never got the ball on that play, but everyone overflowed and I was able to find a hole in the zone. I didn’t want to continue to move where Sam was moving because I knew that’s where all the defenders would go.”
The play: Walter Thurmond sacked Ryan Tannehill, who lost the ball out of the end zone for a safety.
How it happened: This was a well designed play that overloaded the left side of the Dolphins offensive line, but Malcolm Jenkins revealed after the game that this was a run blitz, not a pass blitz. Regardless, Billy Davis’s call worked to perfection. It’s unclear if he made a difference because Thurmond reached Tannehill quickly, but DeMeco Ryans had great depth in his drop to take away the skinny post.
Bird’s-eye view: “[Thurmond] did a nice job of hitting him and getting the ball out, which is what we’re always looking for,” Billy Davis said. “There’s a lot of speed coming off the edge, the smaller the man you send off that corner, the faster they get there and that’s what you saw. And the coverage was really impressive.”
The play: Ryan Mathews ran one yard for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 16-3 in the first quarter.
How it happened: The Dolphins tried a double ‘A’ gap blitz by crossing two linebackers, but Jason Kelce handled it well. After hitting the initial blitzer and helping Allen Barbre seal him to the left, Kelce came off the mate block to hit the other linebacker to the right, creating a crease up the middle.
Bird’s-eye view: “Kelce did a good job of collecting the ‘backer who tried to cross his face,” Lane Johnson said. “That was crucial.”
The play: Caleb Sturgis missed a 32-yard field goal wide right in the beginning of the second quarter.
How it happened: This was a bad snap by Jon Dorenbos, but Donnie Jones did a good job of getting the ball down with the laces facing outward. Sturgis explained below why he missed the kick wide right.
Bird’s-eye view: “I pushed the ball a little bit right,” Sturgis said. “I have to do better. The wind was blowing left to right, and I have to start it further down the middle. I just started it too far right and it missed. It’s something that I have to get better at.”
The play: Donnie Jones’ punt was blocked in the middle of the second quarter and went out of bounds at Philadelphia’s 12-yard line.
How it happened: When this happened live, I thought either Trey Burton or Marcus Smith was at fault because the Dolphin who blocked the punt rushed in between them untouched. However, Chip Kelly pointed to Chris Maragos, the personal protector. Smith did a good job after the punt was blocked to knock over two Dolphins trying to scoop and score and then smartly hit the ball out of bounds so Miami couldn’t advance it.
Bird’s-eye view: “That was Chris’s guy on that play,” Kelly said. “The snap was a little bit off, so maybe the kick was off a little bit sooner. Chris has got to step up on that play.”
The play: Tannehill threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Miller, who was covered by DeMeco Ryans.
How it happened: This couldn’t have been much closer to offensive pass interference, but Miller caught the ball just before the outside receiver blocked Ryans. You could argue Ryans should’ve taken a flatter angle to Miller, but it’s unlikely the inside linebacker would’ve caught the running back from behind after going under the block. Miller then used his speed to outrace Nolan Carroll to the goal line.
Bird’s-eye view: “[Ryans] could’ve been a little bit lower in the trail position that would’ve kept him from [the block], but that’s nitpicking,” Davis said. “It’s one of those bang-bang plays that they hit on us in man coverage that worked out for them and not us.”
The play: Tannehill threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry, after the ball bounced off Connor Barwin’s helmet.
How it happened: Before the throw, this play couldn’t have unfolded much better for the Eagles. Miami’s offensive line blew the protection and allowed two untouched blitzers, even though they had five guys to block six pass rushers.
However, Jenkins (understandably) didn’t know the ball was hit up into the air and thought the pass was going to Byron Maxwell’s man. Jenkins said after the game if he did know, he would’ve first gone for the ball and then tackled his man if he didn’t think he could intercept the pass.
Bird’s-eye view: “I thought the guys played it as well as it can be played,” Davis said. “The last place you want [Jenkins] to look it straight up in the air three stories. That’s just one of those plays that didn’t fall our way.”
The play: Mark Sanchez’s pass intended for Miles Austin was intercepted in the end zone with less than five minutes left in the game.
How it happened: Some people criticized this play call, but it actually made a lot of sense because Miami’s linebackers overran an outside run the play before and consistently got burned on these play-action bootlegs. You also don’t want to be too conservative because although a field goal gives you the lead, a touchdown makes it much harder for you to lose the game with just a few minutes left.
Regardless, Sanchez made a bad decision and a bad throw on this second down. He played well up to this point, which is why I believe Chip when he said Sanchez graded out well, but this play understandably overshadowed his ability to move the ball down the field as it severely hurt the Eagles’ chances to win.
Bird’s-eye view: “[Austin] was reading the coverage as he went across,” Kelly said. “[Sanchez] probably shouldn’t have thrown the ball is what we shouldn’t have done.”