MIAMI -- In the absence of several lightning strikes, the Eagles’ 26-10 win Sunday over the Dolphins was pretty much the working definition of meaningless as far as the 2011 playoffs are concerned. In a broader sense, though, there will continue to be a debate.
For the Fire Andy people, this was a win/win situation. To go on the road and win a game against a Miami team that had won four games out of five will be viewed as a waste of talent and of opportunity; of course they show up when it doesn’t matter anymore in the standings. Then again, if the Eagles had rolled over and lost, they would have been labeled as quitters. But the thing is, you get to play it both ways if you control the conversation, which the Fire Andy people currently do.
For everyone else, though, there is an ongoing search for something that might suggest that the overall evaluation of this 5-8 team’s talent was not entirely incorrect. To completely implode here would suggest the need for a massive overhaul of the roster. It is why these games do matter.
And, against the Dolphins, what we saw was an Eagles defense that played much closer to its supposed capabilities. On short-yardage, there were a half-dozen plays when the Eagles stuffed Miami running backs for little or no gain. In passing rushing situations, the Eagles recorded nine sacks -- three for Jason Babin, giving him 15 for the season, and three for Trent Cole -- and a safety.
Overall, one Eagles touchdown was the direct result of an interception by Kurt Coleman and a return to the 1-yard line. A field goal came after Asante Samuel -- no, this is not a misprint -- forced a Miami fumble and then recovered it. Another touchdown drive began after Babin sacked Miami quarterback Matt Moore and forced a fumble. And then there was the safety in the fourth quarter. In all, the defense helped to set up 19 of the Eagles' 26 points.
On offense, Michael Vick came back after missing three games with broken ribs and had a pretty quiet afternoon overall: 15-for-30 for 208 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The touchdown was a 34-yard pass to DeSean Jackson, which gave Jackson only his third TD of the season. The running game, too, was quiet. LeSean McCoy did get two touchdowns and he did carry the ball 27 times, but he had only 38 rushing yards.
The Eagles' defense really did win this one.