Sunday, December 11, 2011
Wrap-up: Eagles 26, Dolphins 10
By Dan Graziano
Some thoughts on the Philadelphia' Eagles impressive 26-10 victory against the Dolphins in Miami on Sunday afternoon:
What it means: Well, I mean, I guess, technically you've got to say the Eagles are still alive. The victory moves them to 5-8 for the season, and if they can somehow find a way to play this well on defense the rest of the way and win their final three games, they could theoretically still win the NFC East at 8-8. It's a long shot, and it would require the Giants and the Cowboys to do a lot of losing. But this year in the NFC East, no one's very good. And as bad as the Eagles have been, you just can't put that little "x" next to them in the standings just yet.
Defensive clinic: It looked bad early for the defense, as Matt Moore and the Dolphins went right down the field and Moore beat Nnamdi Asomugha with a perfectly thrown 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. But the Eagles' defense locked in after that. It got to Moore and eventually knocked him out of the game. Linebackers Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle made plays. Asante Samuel made a tackle and forced a fumble. It looked a lot like the way the Eagles had hoped they'd be able to play defense all season. And jeez, they went into the fourth quarter with a lead and never even looked as though they'd give it up. The defense had nine sacks, allowed 204 total yards, held the Dolphins to 3-for-15 on third downs and forced three turnovers.
Hoping it was rust, not ribs: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick played after missing three games with broken ribs, and he didn't look great. He hooked up with DeSean Jackson for a long touchdown, but ended the day 15-for-30 for 208 yards and an interception to go with the touchdown. It's possible he was rusty, and the Dolphins' defense has played very well lately, but if the ribs are still hurting Vick when he throws, you have to wonder what the Eagles will or even can do about that.
Weird day for Shady: Eagles running back LeSean McCoy entered the day ranked second in the league in rushing yards, but had just 38 yards on 27 carries against that tough Dolphins front. He did get two touchdowns to take him to 17 for the season (14 rushing, three receiving), but he wasn't his usual explosive self, and he lost ground to Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew in the race for the rushing title.
What's next: The Eagles have a tough home game Sunday against the New York Jets, who are 8-5 and making their own playoff push. New York's once-feared defense isn't quite what it used to be, and the Jets' lack of big-time pass-rushers could allow Vick a little bit more time to throw than he often gets, so it's not an impossible game. They'll just need to protect the ball, and they'll have a chance to outscore Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense.