The Miami Dolphins tried to ruin kelly green night at Lincoln Financial Field on national TV and failed after putting a brief scare into the Eagles.
What was supposed to be an offensive explosion turned into a defensive showcase for the Eagles, who held the fastest team in the NFL to one offensive touchdown in a decisive 31-17 victory on Sunday night.
With the victory, the Eagles join the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs as the only two current NFL teams with 6-1 records (pending San Francisco’s game against Minnesota on Monday night).
Miami entered the game averaging an NFL-high 37.2 points and 498.7 yards a game and the stubborn Eagles held the Dolphins to one offensive touchdown and a season-low 244 yards of total offense.
Entering the game, the Dolphins had built a 5-1 record against teams with a combined 5-24 record and it showed. Miami lacked discipline and that manifested itself in 10 penalties for 70 yards, while the Eagles were not flagged at all.
Jalen Hurts completed 23 of 31 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns, while A.J. Brown hauled in 10 passes for a game-high 137 yards, which tied an NFL record with his fifth-straight game of 125 yards or more receiving, joining Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson.
There were mountains of good, some bad and some ugly in the Eagles’ 31-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
The defense made the Dolphins one dimensional. It held Miami to 45 yards rushing, averaging 3.8 yards a carry and it forced Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa into some questionable decisions that backfired on him. At halftime, Miami had negative yards rushing.
Cornerback Eli Ricks putting a cap on the Miami night on a fourth-and-10 at the Miami 25, by batting a pass away late in the fourth quarter intended for Tyreek Hill, who the Eagles kept the clamps on, allowing him 11 catches for 88 yards on 15 targets.
The Eagles’ 13-play, 83-yard fourth quarter drive that ended on Kenneth Gainwell’s spinning three-yard run with 4:46 to play that sealed it. The Eagles used their infamous “Brotherly Shove” play to convert two fourth downs and their one third-down was converted on Miami’s 10th penalty of the game.
Cornerback Darius Slay’s interception on Tagovailoa’s desperation heave to the end zone on a third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 24 with 11:33 to play. The pass was intended for Raheem Mostert and it was a bad decision by Tagovailoa.
A.J. Brown’s night. His fourth-quarter 42-yard catch between Kader Kohou and DeShon Elliott on a first-and-10 at midfield. Hurts took a vicious shot on the play by Miami linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel to complete the pass. Brown’s 14-yard TD reception with :15 left in the third quarter put the Eagles up 24-17. It could not have come at a better time. The Eagles were flagging, having given up two unanswered touchdowns that tied the score at 17-17—and it came right after a drive that ended in a fluky Hurts’ pick six. The eight-play, 75-yard drive took 3:47. The Eagles had only one third down, and ran the ball twice. Hurts’ movement in the pocket caused the Miami defense problems.
Receiver DeVonta Smith’s 25-yard reception late in the third quarter to the Miami 38 on a first-and-10. Hurts felt some heat and moved to create time, then found Smith down field with 3:34 left in the third quarter.
Linebacker Nolan Smith’s two-yard sack at the Eagles’ 27 with :44 left in the half. Too bad the effort was wasted, because on the next play, Miami scored its first touchdown of the game.
Defensive end Josh Sweat sniffing out Miami’s trick play that brought down Cedrick Wilson with 2:28 to play in the first half for a seven-yard loss at the Dolphins’ 25. Sweat later had a six-yard, fourth-quarter sack with 3:23 left and forced Miami into a fourth-and-10.
Hurts’ scrambling right to find Brown for a 32-yard reception on a fourth-and-three at the Dolphins’ 33. It set up Hurts’ one-yard TD plunge and a commanding 17-3 lead with 3:10 left in the first half.
Smith’s jumping 13-yard catch at the Dolphins’ 40 on second-and-nine on the Eagles’ fourth drive. Two plays later, Smith made a juggling catch that prevented an interception and prolonged the drive.
With 9:59 left in the first half, the Eagles’ defense had held Miami to 36 yards of total offense, outgaining the Dolphins 104-36. Entering the game, Miami was averaging 8 yards/per play, and being held to 2.6 yards per play.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata getting out in front of Dallas Geodert’s 19-yard touchdown catch on a tight end screen. It was a well-designed play that had Mailata slip out and slide down field. He got in the way of Miami safety DeShon Elliott for a 10-3 Eagles’ lead with 11:25 left in the first half.
The Eagles’ first-half rush defense holding Miami to minus-8 yards rushing in the first quarter and minus-7 in the half—the fewest yards rushing in a half in the NFL since 2009. Much of that had to do with defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis congesting the middle.
Boston Scott’s 38-yard kickoff return to begin the Eagles’ third possession at the Philadelphia 39.
Nickle corner Josiah Scott holding the dangerous Hill in front of him on a second-and-goal at the Eagles’ seven after the Hurts’ fumble. Slay came up to help and pulled Hill down for a five-yard loss.
Edge rusher Haason Reddick’s takedown of Mostert for a five-yard loss on a first-and-10 at the Miami 43 on the Dolphins’ first possession. Reddick shrugged off Miami tight end Durham Smythe to make the tackle. Reddick made another stop on Mostert on the Dolphins’ following possession.
Goedert’s consecutive catches for a combined 44 yards on the Eagles’ first drive. The first reception came on a critical third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 48 to the Miami 30 down the sideline. The second catch put the Eagles at first-and-goal at the Dolphins’ eight. The Eagles, however, had to wind up with a Jake Elliott 24-yard field and an early 3-0 Eagles’ lead.
The sweet kelly green look that was reminiscent of Eagles’ teams past. The only thing missing were the flashy, shiny, gray pants once worn by Randall Cunningham, Reggie White and Seth Joyner. These grays were an expandable cloth material.
Safety Terrell Edmunds had a bit of a rough night. On a third-and-12, he got beat by Jaylen Waddle for 12 yards, then got beat by Wilson for 19 yards at the Eagles’ 25 with 12:54 to play. Fortunately, Slay erased that with his interception.
The Eagles losing outside contain on consecutive runs by Mostert on Miami’s second drive of the second half. On a pair of first-and-10s, Mostert ripped off a combined 36 yards to the Eagles 28. But what usually happens with NFL coaches, they tend to outthink themselves. Miami got away from what was working and got stuck at the Eagles’ 21, where Bradberry may have gotten away with a facemask call pulling down Wilson on a fourth-and-three play.
The Eagles’ third-down defense in the first half. Miami was three-for-six on third down conversions, with two of the third-down conversions coming on Miami’s last drive of the half, one on a third-and-18 to the Miami 49, the other on a third-and-eight at the Eagles’ 27 that resulted in the Dolphins’ first score of the game.
Right tackle Lane Johnson getting beat inside by linebacker Jaelan Phillips for a 10-yard sack to finish the first half. Anytime Johnson gets beat is a rarity, but Phillips pushed by him for the first sack Johnson has given up since 2020 (Johnson also got away with a hold on the play, too).
Slay losing track of where Waddle was on a third-and-nine at the Eagles’ 22. Waddle ran at Slay, who seemed to pass him for a second, then turned to realize Edmunds was not there to back him up. The Eagles were fortunate enough to make a stop and force the Dolphins into a game-tying 40-yard field goal.
Red Zone play calling. The Eagles seemed to be content on reaching the Red Zone on their first drive, then simply failed to try and score a touchdown. Hurts simply fell to the turf on the first play, Gainwell was stopped for one yard, then Hurts tried running on a called quarterback draw for three. That was it. There was not one pass attempt to the end zone. The Eagles did not even appear to look toward the end zone.
The Eagles’ sixth turnover in two games resulted in a crazy 22-yard Jerome Baker pick-six with 4:02 left in the third quarter, tying the score at 17-17, blowing the Eagles 17-3 lead. Slot corner Kader Kohou came at Hurts unimpeded, and blocked the pass, which deflected right into Baker’s hands.
Cornerback James Bradberry and Edmunds getting toasted by Hill for a 27-yard touchdown with :39 left in the first half. Hill was supposed to be double-covered, with Bradberry getting support over the top by Edmunds. Only Edmunds was too slow getting over to help Bradberry. In reality, anyone trying to bracket Hill is frequently too slow to cover him. Rookie safety Sydney Brown was nowhere to be found on the play. The call came on a third-and-eight on the same drive when the Dolphins converted a third-and-18 for 29 yards.
Miami converting a third-and-18 at the Miami 49 with 1:56 left in the first half. Tagovailoa tossed one up and found Wilson 29 yards down field. Slay was out of position behind Wilson, who deserves a lot of credit running to the open space in getting to the ball.
The fumble at the Eagles’ 23. This goes on Hurts. On the Eagles’ second drive, he held the ball too loose and too long. Miami linebackers Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips converged on him and Hurts coughed up the ball at the Eagles’ 23. It was the fifth turnover in the last two games for the Eagles and it could have been avoided by Hurts simply throwing the ball away—rather than risk what happened there.
Hurts’ reluctance to be bold with the ball, as he was in his MVP-caliber season last year. On the Eagles’ opening drive, Hurts immediately hit the ground on first-and-goal at the eight, when Baker closed in on him. There is one thing to be smart and slide when Hurts has to protect himself. It is something else when he completely surrenders and falls without seemingly being challenged, as it looked like on that play.
Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.