There’s no doubt last week’s loss to the Jets in the Big Apple freaked a lot of you out.
It was an ugly loss. It was unacceptable. The Eagles lost to a mediocre quarterback in a game in which they committed four turnovers and led with possession of the ball and under two minutes remaining. It confirmed the worst fears of many, that their uneven play in building up a 5-0 record was a house of cards, that the Eagles’ wins were paper thin, and that the entire infrastructure of the 2023 season was about to crash down around them as the most difficult part of their schedule was about to begin.
I won’t lie, I felt it, too, which is why Sunday night’s 31-17 victory over the previously 5-1 Dolphins at Kelly Green-splashed Lincoln Financial Field felt so good.
Exhale, everyone, because as the Birds showed last night, they’re still among the NFL’s beasts.
What Sean Desai’s defense did to Mike McDaniel’s high octane offense on Sunday night was nothing short of a miracle. With players named Terrell Edmunds, Zach Cunningham, rookie Sydney Brown, Josiah Scott, and Eli Ricks trying to contain a passing game that features two of the fastest receivers in football in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins put up just 10 offensive points (three thanks solely to a fumble recovery deep inside Eagles territory). They averaged 37.2 coming into Philadelphia. They also averaged 498.7 yards per game in total offense, but were held to 244 yards and a meager 12 first downs last night. The best running attack in football, a unit that has uses motion and confusion to average 181.8 yards rushing per game, earned just 45 yards on the ground.
They had a 70-point game this season. Three times they gained at least 500 yards of offense.
The dominant defensive effort allowed Jalen Hurts to overcome two turnovers that directly led to 10 of Miami’s 17 points. Outside of those plays, Hurts played a brilliant game, putting up a 109.5 passer rating and, most importantly, took over the game late in the third and fourth quarters with the kind of play-making ability and sheer force of will that makes him so utterly difficult to beat in the regular season. Hopefully, his knee injury isn’t serious.
It was understandable to be concerned about the Eagles coming into Sunday night, but as they showed us once again, despite last week’s hiccup, this team is elite. They are a Super Bowl favorite. Each of the top teams in the conference have also lost awful games this season. The Eagles are not a special case.
In Week 3, Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals shocked the Cowboys 28-16. Dallas was also brutalized by the 49ers a couple weeks later. Those same Niners fell 19-17 to Cleveland last week, and the Lions were obliterated by the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday, 38-6.
These things happen in today’s NFL. Great teams respond and, last night, Nick Sirianni’s squad responded in a big way, playing the type of football that won them a lot of games in 2022. They pounded the ball early and stayed with it, despite a lack of success. Hurts overcame his turnovers and found his big play guys in huge moments. A.J. Brown balled out, as did Dallas Goedert. The Brotherly Shove earned them four first downs, including a critical 4th-and-1 conversion in the 4th quarter with the ball at their own 26. Darius Slay snagged a pick, and the defensive line smother Tua relentlessly all night.
Hopefully, this helps everyone relax and reminds us, the NFL is a week-to-week sport. When you’re a talented team like the Eagles (or the 49ers, Cowboys or Lions), bad games are going to happen, but usually, those good teams respond.
With their win last night, the Eagles proved they are still one of the elite teams in the NFL.