The Eagles missed an opportunity to beat the Dolphins on Sunday, and with it went their chance to tie Dallas atop the NFC East
The season for the Philadelphia Eagles hung in the air for several agonizing seconds. Nelson Agholor had a chance at it. So did J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. But it settled in the hands of Miami Dolphins defender Chris Lammons, and with it went the Eagles’ best chance to get back in the NFC East race.
The Eagles were presented with an opportunity this week after Dallas lost to Buffalo on Thanksgiving. With a win against the 2-9 Dolphins, Philadelphia would tie the Cowboys atop the division with a record of 6-6. But the Dolphins had other plans, and the Eagles walked off the field at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday with a 37-31 loss.
The Eagles have now lost three games in a row, but this one felt different. After two hard-fought games against playoff-bound Seattle and New England where they limited both offenses to 17 points, they were shredded by Miami’s 30th-ranked offense. Excluding a kneel down at the end of the first half, the Dolphins scored touchdowns on five straight possessions against the Eagles defense. Those drives went for 84, 75, 75, 61, and 96 yards. In their first four drives of the second half, the Dolphins gained 282 yards.
Even after giving up a touchdown on the most creative play call of the season, with Dolphins punter Matt Haack connecting with kicker Jason Sanders in the end zone, the Eagles still had a chance at the end of the game. Trailing by six, quarterback Carson Wentz threw a Hail Mary pass in the end zone that was picked off by Lammons as time expired.
It was a game of missed opportunities for the Eagles. Wentz, who led the offense to just 10 and nine points, respectively, the last two weeks wasn’t the problem this time. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, his only blemish coming on his desperation heave in the end zone. The Eagles led by 14 points at one point before surrendering 23 consecutive points to the Dolphins offense.
The Eagles still have a path toward the NFC East title, but it would’ve been much easier had they defeated the Dolphins. At 5-7, they trail the Cowboys by one game with four weeks remaining in the season. The schedule favors the Eagles. They still have two games left against the 2-10 Giants and another against the 3-9 Redskins. The combined record for the Eagles remaining opponents is only 13-35, compared to 20-27 for the Cowboys.
Then there is Week 16 when the Eagles host the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cowboys won the first game against Philadelphia this season at home in Week 7 by a score of 37-10. But their season has gone in the wrong direction since. Dallas has lost three of their last four games, albeit against teams with winning records. They are 0-5 against teams above .500 this season; the Eagles are 2-3.
The loss to Buffalo on Thanksgiving opened speculation that head coach Jason Garrett needs a long playoff run to save his job. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will avoid that talk by virtue of the Super Bowl ring on his finger. But these are two franchises who had plenty of high expectations at the start of the year and have failed to meet them. One of them is going to host a home playoff game in January. It just won’t be a smooth ride getting there.