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Andy Reid’s game plan definitely did not include allowing a blocked punt on the opening drive. It also did not embrace the idea of having a 16 yard Brandon Marshall touchdown reception occur just three plays later.
But in the end maybe that was all that he and his Eagles really needed to snap their two game losing streak on Sunday, moving their record to 5-8 with a 26-10 victory over the Dolphins.
Michael Vick’s return under center and Philadelphia’s 24 point second quarter outburst probably had a little more say, however.
“We’ve been through a lot, a lot of games we were supposed to win and didn’t finish,” said Vick. “I’m proud we won today.”
Vick finally played for the first time in a month after missing the previous three weeks due to broken ribs. After a prolonged absence he spoke of how he chose to respond to the physical effects of experiencing NFL action once again.
“I’m in a lot of pain, but I just wanted to finish and get through the game,” stated Vick. “I got hit a lot, and it kind of wore me down. I tried to hang in there.”
Getting back to game speed was certainly an issue for Vick, as he finished just 15-30 with one touchdown and one interception on 208 yards passing. Meanwhile, his legs were a non-factor, running for a mere nine yards on only two carries.
Miami’s defense did a solid job of containing Vick and the Philadelphia offense for most of the day. Unfortunately for the Dolphins the scope of the entire game changed late in the first quarter after missing a 55 yard field goal attempt that would have given them a 10-0 lead. The Eagles suddenly gained new life, and would respond with a 54 yard drive that ended with a two yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy in the second quarter. Philadelphia then proceeded to score an additional 17 points during the quarter. That was all the scoring that would be necessary to win the ball game.
“The Eagles have been inconsistent like we have,” said Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall. “But that’s a team with a lot of talent. At any moment they can be an undefeated team, or look like one.”
Philadelphia’s defense played an inspired second quarter following the team’s first score. On Miami’s next possession safety Kurt Coleman intercepted a deep pass from Matt Moore at the Dolphins 36 and returned it all the way to the one. The pass was intended for receiver Davone Bess.
The second play of the Dolphin’s goal line stand would result in McCoy’s second touchdown run of the day, giving the Eagles their first lead at 14-7. McCoy had a very unusual day. He did have two touchdowns but only rushed for 38 yards on 27 attempts.
Bess soon found himself in the middle of the Dolphins’ troubles once again. Eagles corner back Asante Samuel forced him to fumble after a 3rd down completion on Miami’s next possession. Samuel also recovered the fumble at the Dolphins 34.
Luckily for the Dolphins they were able to keep it at just a two possession game by holding Philadelphia to a 40 yard field goal despite obtaining excellent field position.
But turnovers were Miami’s undoing in the second quarter. Matt Moore surrendered one right back to Philadelphia after the Dolphins recovered a fumbled punt return at the Eagles 24. It was a perfect opportunity for Miami to get right back into the game until Eagles defensive end Jason Babin forced Moore to fumble after sacking him at the Philadelphia 29.
Two minutes and five seconds later Vick connected with DeSean Jackson on a 34 yard touchdown throw to give the Eagles a commanding 24-7 lead going into the half.
Miami stopped turning the ball over in the second half and its defense returned to the strong form it established during the team’s recent 4-1 stretch.
But the story of the day was the Philadelphia defense. The Eagles had nine sacks, a late safety, and even knocked Matt Moore out of the game in the third quarter with a head injury. Moore’s final line was 11-19 for 95 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
His replacement J.P. Losman did not fare any better with 60 yards on 6-10 passing.
Philadelphia hopes to display more of that defensive firepower over their last three games for a potential playoff push.