Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill prepares to throw. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI. | License Photo
PHILADELPHIA -- The Miami Dolphins were handed a couple of golden opportunities and they created a couple of their own, and the result was a 20-19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Dolphins (4-5) won their first AFC East game of the season after losing their last two to New England and Buffalo. The Eagles (4-5) lost their starting quarterback and a chance to take over first place in NFC East when Sam Bradford was knocked out of the game late in the third quarter with an injured shoulder and a concussion and replaced by Mark Sanchez for the rest of the game.
"I felt like we had this game won and we let it slip out of our fingers," Eagles tackle Lane Johnson said. "That was the toughest part about it."
Bradford completed 19 of 25 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown and Sanchez was 14-for-23 for 156 yards and a critical interception. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 36 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was a fluke.
"It was a crazy game that went back and forth, but we made the plays when we had to make them," said Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who smiled as he added "even if those plays weren't exactly how we drew them up."
Landry was involved in the craziest play of this crazy game, and it gave the Dolphins a lead they would never lose. Miami, trailing 16-13, had the ball on the Eagles 4-yard line when a pass from Tannehill was batted high into the air at the line of scrimmage by Eagles linebacker Conner Barwin. Almost anyone could have caught the floating ball, and eventually it landed in Jarvis' arms in the end zone with 14:55 left to play.
And Sanchez, in his first action of the year, made a critical mistake late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles, trailing by one point, had the ball on the Miami 9-yard line. Sanchez tried to force a pass to receiver Miles Austin and it was intercepted by safety Reshad Jones with 4:26 left to play.
"We were hyped after that," Dolphins receiver Rishard Matthews said of Jones' interception. "We kind of had the sense that the game was over after that."
The Dolphins took a 3-0 lead on their first possession on Andrew Franks 42-yard field goal. But it didn't take the Eagles long to answer -- on their first play from scrimmage, Bradford hit tight end Brent Celek on a short crossing pattern and Celek took off down the sideline for a 60-yard gain, to the Miami 4. Two plays later, Bradford found wide receiver Josh Huff open in the end zone for a 7-0 lead, the first time the Eagles have scored on their opening drive all season and just their second first-quarter touchdown of the year.
The Eagles added to that after a couple of Miami miscues, including a botched kickoff return in the end zone by Damien Williams that put the ball on the Dolphins 1. Tannehill dropped to pass in the end zone and was blindsided by blitzing safety Walter Thurmond and fumbled out of the end zone for a safety, giving the Eagles a 9-6 lead with 8:38 left in the opening period.
And the Eagles weren't finished with the first quarter. After taking the ensuing free kick, Philadelphia marched 58 yards in 10 plays, with running back Ryan Mathews scoring from the 1 to make it 16-3 with 4:43 left in the period.
Then the Dolphins got the break they needed. Trailing 16-6 late in the second quarter, Zach Vigil blocked a punt to give Miami possession on the Eagles 12, and on second down Tannehill connected with running back Lamar Miller for a 13-yard touchdown that cut the Eagles lead to 16-13 with 5:52 left in the first half.
"That was a huge play and it gave them a lot of momentum," Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryan said. "Give them credit, but we have to do a better job, because plays like that always seem to come back and bite you."
NOTES: Among Miami's deactivations was starting RT Ja'Wuan James, who has a toe injury. He was replaced by OT Jason Fox. ... Dolphins starting CB Brent Grimes was also deactivated due to illness. He was replaced by rookie CB Bobby McCain, a fifth-round pick from Memphis. ... Eagles LT Jason Peters missed his second straight game with a back injury. He was replaced again by OT Lane Johnson and OT Dennis Kelly took over Johnson's spot on the right side. ... Eagles rookie WR Nelson Agholor was active after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury, but WR Josh Huff started in his place.