The Miami Dolphins are good. They’re not great yet.
The Philadelphia Eagles might not be great yet this season either, but they’re still on a different tier than Miami. The Eagles made the plays they needed to, many of which came from receiver A.J. Brown, and the Eagles won 31-17 in a battle of teams that were 5-1 coming in.
We know what to expect from the Eagles, though it has been tougher than necessary at times this season. Philadelphia is a Super Bowl contender, despite some of their early-season struggles. Miami is still an unknown with a growing reputation: The Dolphins and their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can stack up oodles of yards and points against terrible defenses, but they’re not yet ready to do that against a contender. And perhaps that means they’re not a contender themselves.
The Dolphins have faced two hard tests this season. They lost at the Buffalo Bills by 28 points. Even though Sunday night’s game was closer, it was still another reason to believe the Dolphins’ ceiling might be limited. They’re not going to get to face teams like the Panthers, Giants or Broncos in the playoffs, after all.
Dolphins offense has some trouble
The Dolphins were one-dimensional right away. Miami’s run game, which was averaging 181.8 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry, was shut down right away. The Dolphins had -7 rushing yards in the first half against the Eagles.
Tagovailoa and Hill kept the Dolphins in the game. Hill beat a double team and got deep for a 27-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half. The Dolphins hadn’t played well, they were down three offensive linemen due to injuries but were still trailing just 17-10 at halftime.
It was the defense that got a huge play to even the score. Jalen Hurts’ pass was batted at the line by blitzing cornerback Kader Kohou, and linebacker Jerome Baker reacted fast and caught it. He took the interception an easy 22 yards to the end zone to tie the game.
That was Hurts’ eighth interception of the season, already two more than he had all of last season. But he bounced back fast. Hurts led a drive and hit A.J. Brown for a touchdown to take back a 24-17 lead. The Dolphins defense had played well, but a stop there would have been huge and they couldn’t get it.
There was still a long way to go in the game but that answer by the Eagles took back the momentum.
Eagles extend their lead
The Eagles got a huge interception early in the fourth quarter. Raheem Mostert and Jaylen Waddle ran their routes too close to each other, seemingly with one of them running the wrong route, which allowed Darius Slay Jr. to float over and intercept Tagovailoa’s pass. Then the Eagles faced a fourth-and-1, and after initially sending on the punt team, they called timeout, ran the “brotherly shove” sneak and got the first down. Then a few plays later they ran the sneak again and got it, because no defense can stop the Eagles’ signature play.
Brown made a play after that to help put the game away. Hurts stood in against the rush, threw deep to Brown and he made a catch in coverage for 42 yards. That set up a touchdown and a 31-17 lead with just a few minutes left. The Dolphins battled but ultimately they weren’t good enough to keep up with the Eagles. Just like they weren’t good enough to keep up with the Bills.
Miami is a talented, fun team that could continue to get better as the season goes on. They’re just not quite on the same plane as the elite teams yet, as their two losses have shown. The Dolphins face the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany in two weeks. We’ll see if they’ve made any progress before that test.