Sunday's heartbreaking 20-19 loss to the Dolphins was an emotional roller coaster. The Eagles opened the game with what was by far their best start of the season, jumping out to a 16-3 lead in the first quarter behind a near-perfect performance early from Sam Bradford and hard-nosed play by the defense. But after the first break, things quickly fell apart. The offense became stagnant, the team hurt itself with penalties on both sides of the ball and Bradford suffered a shoulder injury and concussion in the third quarter that knocked him out for the remainder of the game.
The loss dropped Philadelphia to 4-5 on the year, and nine games into the season head coach Chip Kelly is disappointed that miscues have still been such a common theme for the team week to week.
"We moved the ball, but I think we hurt ourselves. That's what I told our guys," Kelly said. "A couple of those penalties were just real big drive-killers for us, and those are on us. ... We didn't do a good job I think in terms of putting ourselves in positions where we can be successful."
With the offense missing All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters for the second straight week, Miami's front seven was able to get a good deal of pressure on Bradford, and later on reserve signal-caller Mark Sanchez. The Dolphins notched four sacks for 39 yards, and the Eagles' offensive line was whistled for three holding calls and a false start on the day.
Even more concerning, though, was Philadelphia's inability to move the ball on the ground. After rushing for 349 combined yards in their last two games, the Eagles were held to just 83 yards on 36 carries against Miami (2.3 yards per attempt). On many plays, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews hardly had enough time to receive the handoff before being met by a Dolphins defender in the backfield.
"It looks like we struggled at times to handle the (interior defenders)," Kelly said, specifically mentioning defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who finished with eight tackles, three for loss and a sack. "A lot of (our strategy) was trying to keep the quarterback away from them. That's why we ran a lot of bootlegs to try and get the quarterback out of the pocket and avoid that rush."
The Eagles' special teams unit didn't fair much better. The Eagles missed a 32-yard field goal early in the game because of a botched snap by Jon Dorenbos, and a blocked punt in the third quarter set the Dolphins up inside the Philadelphia red zone and led to a touchdown pass that put them ahead for the first time since the first quarter.
With seven games remaining in the season, the 4-5 Eagles are tied with Washington and trail the New York Giants in the NFC East.
"You better come to play every single week in this league," said Kelly. "You (forget) whether you won or not and get back to work on Monday and get ready to go play whoever your next opponent is. Because they're going to be gunning for you.
"You pick your head up at at the end of the season and see if you won enough games to get into the playoffs. That's always been how we approach it and always will be how we approach it."
The Eagles returned home to face the Dolphins in Week 10 of the regular season. View the full gallery here...