The start of the game on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium couldn’t have went any better for the Miami Dolphins (4-9). The special teams stayed hot and a blocked punt by Jimmy Wilson set up the Miami offense at the Philadelphia Eagles 15-yard line. Quarterback Matt Moore took over from there and hit wide receiver Brandon Marshall to take a quick 7-0 lead, but it went downhill fast from there! Multiple turnovers and pressure mounted by the Philadelphia defense finally took down the Dolphins 26-10. Here are some of the things that I learned from the game on Sunday.
1) Too Many Turnovers – The Miami Dolphins have done a great job protecting the football winning four of their last five games, but on Sunday that streak came to an end. Three turnovers in the second quarter directly led to 17 points for the Eagles that turned the momentum of the football game. Coming into the game, the Eagles were the team that could look to turnovers as being the main reason that they haven’t won on a consistent basis. Philadelphia was minus 13 (tied for last in the NFL) coming into the game against the Dolphins, but found a way to turn it around with constant defensive pressure. The Eagles defense forced two fumbles (one forced fumble and recovery by Eagles defensive back Asante Samuel on wide receiver Davone Bess, and one forced and recovered by Eagles defensive end Jason Babin on quarterback Matt Moore). The lone interception against the Dolphins was by safety Kurt Coleman on Moore.
2) Winning Performance By Dolphins Defense and Special Teams - Anytime you can hold the NFC’s leading rusher (running back LeSean McCoy) to 38 yards on 27 carries ( a 1.4 average per carry with a long of 11), and quarterback Michael Vick to 50 percent completions (only one touchdown and one interception), you should have a chance to win. The bonus is holding wide receiver/return specialist DeSean Jackson to a total of 35 return yards on six attempts and block a punt that directly leads to points! Well the Dolphins accomplished all of the above and pressured Vick into four sacks (two by linebacker Jason Taylor that put him sixth on the NFL all-time list with 138.5) and 10 tackles for loss on the afternoon. This group played inspired football throughout the game forcing 16 minus plays, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Dolphins to victory.
3) Too Much Pressure In The Pocket – The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled through most of this season with getting consistent play from the entire team, especially the defensive unit. It was a different story on Sunday as the Eagles defense forced nine sacks, three each by defensive ends Trent Cole and Jason Babin. The Eagles front seven started to turn up the heat on the Dolphins offensive line, playing most of the game without left tackle Jake Long and right guard Vernon Carey. Offensive lineman Nate Garner and John Jerry replaced Long and Carey and played well, but the loss of the two starters was definitely felt throughout the game. The score dictated that the Dolphins offense rely on throwing the football more in the second half, and the Eagles defense concentrated on getting pressure on the quarterback.
4) Reggie Bush Still Running Hard – Running back Reggie Bush was able to crank out 103 yards on 14 carries trying to energize the Dolphins offense all day long. It was the second week in a row that Bush was able to reach the century mark running for 100 yards last week against the Raiders. Reggie was elusive in the open field and showed his toughness by often finishing his runs by dishing out the punishment instead of accepting it. Bush also had five receptions for 27 yards with a long of 17. Bush has a chance to reach 1,000 yards rushing if he can average 76.67 yards over the next three games (Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and the New York Jets). That would be quite the accomplishment seeing this is the first time in his career the Bush is being used as the every down featured running back!
5) Short Yardage Struggles – One strength of this offense so far this season has been the play of the short yardage unit, with running back Lex Hilliard going seven for seven in those situations. The Eagles defense had other plans turning back the Miami offense on multiple short-yardage opportunities (two third and one and two fourth and one chances) that turned the momentum in Philadelphia’s favor. If the Dolphins could have converted on just 50 percent of those chances, it would have kept the offense on the field, and improved on the third down percentage (3 of 15 for 20 percent). Getting turned away in these situations takes away some confidence in your play calling and yesterday gave the Eagles excellent field position.
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