The Eagles dropped a heartbreaker to the Dolphins on Sunday afternoon. After losing quarterback Sam Bradford to a concussion and shoulder injury in the third quarter, the offense struggled to find its rhythm and Miami was able to take advantage as the game ended, 20-19. Take a look at the biggest takeaways from the afternoon ...
Bradford, Mathews Both Injured During Third Quarter
On a second-and-8 passing attempt at the 5:42 mark of the third quarter, Bradford was sacked by Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain, who drove the veteran signal-caller into the turf and forced a fumble. The Eagles recovered the ball, but Bradford was shaken up on the play. He came out of the game and headed to the locker room shortly thereafter. Bradford had X-rays taken of his left, non-throwing shoulder, which came up negative, but was diagnosed with a concussion. He did not return to the game.
Reserve Mark Sanchez entered facing a third-and-15 and was able to pick up a first down with a 17-yard completion to Ryan Mathews. Shortly after, it was announced that Mathews was being evaluated for a head injury. He was also ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion.
Sanchez’s First Showing
In Sanchez’s first game action of the regular season, the quarterback went 14-of-23 for 156 yards. Sanchez guided the Eagles on what appeared to be a touchdown drive, but Zach Ertz's scoring reception was negated by a Riley Cooper penalty. The Eagles had to settle for a field goal. Later, Sanchez connected with Murray for a 20-yard gain at the 5:23 mark of the fourth quarter, bringing the team to the Dolphins’ 8-yard line. But, Sanchez threw an interception in the end zone to Reshad Jones, ending the Eagles’ drive with the team still trailing by a point. A touchdown or a field goal would have given the Eagles the lead and possibly the win as neither team scored in the remaining time.
Celek Steps Up
On both Eagles scoring drives in the first quarter, tight end Brent Celek played a key role. His longest reception of the game on the opening drive was crucial to the team’s touchdown. The Eagles started from their own 36 after a 31-yard kickoff return from Josh Huff. The very next play, Bradford connected with Celek for a 60-yard gain. Celek was taken down at the Miami 4, putting the Eagles at first-and-goal. Bradford eventually connected with Huff in the end zone, who made the jumping catch for six.
Celek also picked up a 20-yard gain on the team’s second drive and another 40-yard reception at the start of the second quarter. He finished the half with 120 receiving yards, the second most by a tight end in the first half in team history. He trailed only his own total of 121 yards, a record he set against Denver in 2009. In all, the veteran finished the game with four receptions for 134 yards.
Sack For Safety
After Dolphins kickoff returner Damien Williams made a poor decision in the first quarter to take the ball out of the end zone and slipped at the 1-yard line, the Eagles' defense was ready to feast. With the ball in the hands of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, safety Walter Thurmond blitzed at full speed to make the sack in the end zone. During the hard hit, Tannehill fumbled the ball, which bounced out of the end zone for the safety.
It marked the Dolphins’ third-straight game allowing a safety and was the Eagles’ first safety since December 22, 2013 in a rout of the Chicago Bears.
Special Teams Were The Difference
Caleb Sturgis’ first game as an Eagle didn’t go as the third-year placekicker hoped it would. The 26-year-old missed an extra point and a 33-yard field goal in the critical 23-20 road loss to Washington in Week 4, but head coach Chip Kelly stuck with the young kicker. Since then, he’s been largely automatic, nailing 12 of his next 13 attempted field goals, with his only miss coming on a 50-yard attempt in Carolina in Week 7. But against his former team, the Dolphins, Sturgis shanked a 32-yarder, the result of a low snap and late hold by long snapper Jon Dorenbos and punter Donnie Jones.
Later in the second quarter, another special teams miscue hurt Philadelphia, as the Eagles allowed linebacker Zach Vigil to run free into the backfield and block a punt. The ball was blocked by Vigil and knocked out of bounds at the Philadelphia 12. Two plays later, the Dolphins scored their first touchdown of the game, trimming the deficit to 16-13 with 5:52 left until halftime.
Kendricks Coming Up Big After Rough Start
After getting beat for a 35-yard completion down the right sideline by running back Lamar Miller on the third play of the game, Mychal Kendricks was excellent for the Eagles. The fourth-year linebacker finished second on the team in tackles with six and notched his third sack in as many games. He also came up with a big stop on third down early in the third quarter, crossing the length of the field on an outside sweep by Miller to bring down the running back just short of the sticks.