Under the very bright lights of Sunday Night Football, the Miami Dolphins fell to the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-17, in a battle of first-place teams in front of 69,879 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
An early candidate for the Game of the Year did not disappoint, though the Dolphins fell to 0-2 this season when facing teams with winning records.
The biggest storyline entering the game was the duel between two former Alabama quarterbacks: Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa. In the 2018 national championship game, Hurts was pulled for Tagovailoa, and the latter pushed the Crimson Tide past Georgia.
A year later, the roles were reversed, as Tagovailoa was injured in the SEC championship game against Georgia, and Hurts came in and willed Alabama to victory before ultimately transferring to Oklahoma.
They are both staples in any conversation about NFL star signal-callers these days, and Hurts won this chapter. He threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score.
Donning their throwback “Kelly Green” jerseys, the Eagles improved to 6-1 and bounced back from their lone blemish, a loss to the New York Jets last week.
“I always feel like when we play our best is when we’re leaning on Jalen playing great,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “But, we’re [also] leaning on those offensive and defensive lines.”
“I’m happy how we responded, especially coming off of last week,” he said. “It was a great opportunity against a great team out there. I have a lot of respect for them as a team. I think we played really good complementary football.”
The Dolphins, meanwhile, fell to 5-2, losing for the second time in four weeks. Perhaps more concerning is that the five teams Miami has defeated this season are a combined 8-25.
Tagovailoa threw for 216 yards and a touchdown but also threw a costly interception to Eagles safety Darius Slay in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the win for the home team.
“It’s tough when you come on the road against a really good team and you’re not able to execute the way you expected to execute,” Tagovailoa said. “But you have to give props to those guys and their coaching staff. They did a real good job in preparing for us. Some things went well for us, some things we’re just trying to figure out there. But, overall we just have to get better.”
A big difference in the game was penalties and that figures to be a talking point this week. The Eagles were not flagged. Meanwhile, 10 penalties were called against the Dolphins, totaling 70 yards.
“The collection of coaches and players in the locker room right now are hurting because they feel like they left some plays on the field for sure,” Miami coach Mike McDaniel said. “You know, losses, if approached the right way — if you’re not pointing fingers and you’re looking internally — can be a good thing too. So, that’s what we’ll be determined to make this moving forward … starting with [Monday].”
Miami had difficulty stopping Philadelphia receiver AJ Brown, who took full advantage of a short-handed Dolphins secondary. Miami was without their two top defensive backs – Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard – and Brown cashed in, finishing with 138 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches.
Ramsey and Howard may be in the lineup on Sunday when the Dolphins take on the New England Patriots (2-5) at Hard Rock Stadium.
“This is a good test early in the season,” Tagovailoa said. “People can say the penalties this, or the penalties that. But for us, as a team, we are not throwing that out as an excuse. We didn’t do enough to win the game. We will go in [Monday] and we will learn from that and get ready for New England.”
The Eagles, meanwhile, will meet the Washington Commanders (3-4) on Sunday at FedEx Field.