PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles went to Miami, but it was anything but paradise. The Eagles’ defense was scorched by Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker and Miami’s placekicker caught a touchdown from its punter as the Birds fell, 37-31, to the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
The Eagles had a chance to move into a first-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East with four games left, but the loss keeps them one game back. Because the Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving, the Eagles still have a shot, but Sunday’s defeat was a crushing one — and their third straight loss.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson acknowledged that his team is now a long shot for a playoff berth and that he’ll need to combat doubt in the locker room.
“There will be a little bit of that,” he said. “We have to guard against that. We’re still a good team.”
Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 39 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns. He threw an interception on his first pass.
Trickery helped the Dolphins, who twice opted not to kick on fourth down and instead threw for a touchdown. The second such gamble by rookie coach Brian Flores paid off when Miami shifted out of field goal formation before holder Matt Haack threw a 1-yard pass to kicker Jason Sanders.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 1, 2019
Parker did much of the rest. He finished with seven receptions for a career-high 159 yards and two scores, both on leaping grabs. His first TD had a 43-yarder on a 4th-and-2 in the first quarter.
Miami came into Sunday’s game averaging 14.8 points, which was 30th in the NFL. The Dolphins’ 37 points were easily a season-high. Their previous season high was 24 in a 41-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. They also gained a season-high 408 yards.
The Dolphins (3-9) won for the third time in their past five games, a surprising and perhaps costly turnaround for a team that will be shopping for a franchise quarterback in the 2020 draft.
Despite generating constant pressure on Fitzpatrick and sacking him three times, the Eagles’ defense fell apart in the second half. The Dolphins, which had scored 18 offensive touchdowns before Sunday, scored TDs on four straight drives in the second half.
The Birds allowed 23 points in the final 30 minutes.
Ronald Darby picked off Fitzpatrick on the Dolphins’ QB’s first pass attempt, which led to a TD pass from Carson Wentz to Miles Sanders.
The Eagles’ offense had Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks back on the offensive line as well as Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor at wideout. Still, the Birds’ offense couldn’t outscore the Dolphins.
Wentz completed 28 for 45 passes for 310 yards and three TDs and an interception.
Jeffery caught nine balls for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Agholor caught three passes for 41 yards. Sanders ran for 83 yards on 17 attempts and picked up 22 yards on five catches with a TD.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside scored his first-career touchdown — a 15-yard TD catch — that gave the Eagles a 21-14 halftime lead.
Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage left in the second quarter with a left leg injury and didn’t return.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham was evaluated for a head injury and cleared to return.
The 5-7 Eagles will host the New York Giants next Monday night. The Eagles have won five in a row in the series and face the Giants again in the final game of the regular season.
The Dolphins head to East Rutherford, New Jersey, to kick off against the Jets. New York beat the Dolphins, 27-18, in Week 9.
(©Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)