More Sports:

October 22, 2023

Final observations: Eagles 31, Dolphins 17

The Eagles might be the team to beat in the NFL again after their impressive handling of the Dolphins Sunday night.

Statement wins are fun — and the Eagles flexed all of their muscles and looked like contenders again after a 31-17 win against the best offense in football from Miami under the bright lights (and in Kelly Green) Sunday night.

With the Phillies a win away from clinching a trip to the World Series Monday night, Philadelphia is the capital of sports for a second straight fall and the vibes are good.

The Eagles overcame true adversity and showed that perhaps those disqualifying them for their unexpected weakness last week at MetLife Stadium are simply "Chicken Littles." After all, they had a similarly ugly loss last season to Washington and all it did was help springboard them to a Super Bowl berth.

If you want to play catch up, here are our first-half observations. And here's a big picture look at the good, the bad and the ugly from a big win on South Broad Street:

The Good

• Short memories win in the NFL. After a brutally costly turnover (that we will get into in a later section), Jalen Hurts shrugged off a pick-six and drove the Eagles 75 yards on eight plays — leading to a touchdown pass to A.J. Brown to stop the bleeding and 14-straight Dolphins points. The Eagles led 24-17 after three quarters in South Philly.

• The announcer at Lincoln Financial Field calls one Eagles player by a nickname — "Big Play" Slay." He lived up to that moniker with his back against the end zone, picking off Tagovailoa as Miami was driving to attempt to tie things early in the fourth quarter. Pressure had been getting to the Fins' signal-caller all evening long and the entire team should be credited with the opportunistic interception.

• One hell of a stand by the defense midway through the third, withstanding a red zone push by the Fins and suffocating Tyreek Hill on a failed 4th and 3 attempt. It really feels like in this game more than any of the others the veteran defending NFC champions stepped up in big spot after big spot, fully knowing the stakes and playing excellent situational football.

If the Eagles are able to overcome injuries, stinker losses like last week's to the Jets and make it back to the Super Bowl again it will take efforts like Sunday's from experienced players — like Dallas Goedert making snags on third down in the red zone or Slay making a clutch interception in the red zone.

• They'll also benefit from having a wide receiver who can do this:

Brown continues to be an absolute monster, and hauled in 10 passes for 137 yards Sunday. It's his fifth straight game of more than 125 yards. He didn't pass Hill for the lead in receiving yards, but he's in a very impressive second in the entire NFL right now. 

The above catch led to a Kenny Gainwell touchdown run and a 14-point 4th quarter Eagles lead. It was a dominating 13-play touchdown drive.

• On the aforementioned drive, the Eagles successfully executed their "tush push" from their own 26 yard line. They did it again from their own 38 on the same fourth-quarter drive. That's probably going to get the opponents of this near-flawless maneuver pretty mad. It's almost a different sport when you basically have an extra down to work with. 

• Entering Sunday night's contest, no team had allowed fewer rushing yards on the season than the Eagles with a paltry 395 yards allowed over six games — just over 65 yards per game for those who like doing the kind of math that divides things.

They were elite again Sunday, making the Dolphins totally one-dimensional. Miami has 1,095 yards rushing this season, almost three times as much as the Eagles have allowed (more simple division at work). Against the Eagles they ran for just -7 yards in the first half and 25 in total (Raheem Mostert had a few good runs in the second half). Here's a breakdown of their domination so far in 2023:

WeekOpponentRush yards allowed
5Rams 54

• The defense as a unit really had a winning strategy Sunday night and it's one that required just as much luck as skill to implement. The Eagles really let the Dolphins offense make mistakes, adding in a few good plays on early downs. Miami had a bevy of situations with more than 10 yards to go for a first down and the Eagles were able to keep the speed of Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Mostert and the other Miami weapons in front of them. 

Miami had 10 penalties in the game (for 70 yards). Pair that with eight tackles for loss and the defense was able to be conservative and play essentially a sticks style defense in key spots during the game. Miami also gained just 244 yards in total after averaging more than 500 per game heading into the Week 7 tilt.

• It's also worth noting that the Eagles did not have a penalty accepted against them — at all — the entire game. That's the kind of play fans expect from a veteran team.

The Bad

• The "sticks" approach wasn't perfect, and the defense did break in a 3rd and 12 in the fourth quarter as Tua Tagovailoa hit Waddle in stride for a big momentum-shifting first down with the Dolphins trailing by a touchdown. But they bent again and didn't break (not a lot of bad in this second half, we're trying here).

• There was a stretch of games — from Week 2 to Week 5 — that saw the Eagles run for 145 yards per game but they ran for just 80 against the Jets and 99 against the Dolphins in Week 7. There is little doubt that this offense is at its best when running comes first, but the Eagles are really lucky their putrid 3.1 yards per carry got the job done against the Dolphins. Prior to Week 7 they averaged 4.5 yards per rushing attempt. They came into this game knowing they had to play keep-away, and it's a wonder their lackluster efficiency on the ground was able to win them the battle for possession time in this one.

The Ugly

• If you look up the definition of "ugly" in Webster's Dictionary, you will find the following:

This happened last week in New Jersey if you recall, a deflected pass from a defensive lineman leading to an interception — in this case it was a pick-six that evened the game at 17-all. Do you blame the blockers? Was Hurts forcing it instead of taking a sack? 

The turnovers are simply killing this football team. In 2022 Philly was +8, the third-best differential in the NFL. This year so far they are -2. 

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports