Published December 12, 2011
| Associated Press
MIAMI – Asante Samuel stood in the middle of the field waving his arms during a timeout, trying to coax more noise from the crowd. The resulting roar so inspired the Philadelphia Eagles cornerback that on the next play, he forced and recovered a fumble.
A thousand miles from Philly, as a disappointing season winds down, the underachieving Eagles still gave their fans something to cheer about Sunday. They totaled nine sacks and forced three turnovers to beat the Miami Dolphins 26-10.
Perhaps a quarter of the crowd was rooting for the visitors.
"The fans were unbelievable," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "Unbelievable. At times you almost felt like you were at home. They were loud. They were aggressive, right from the get-go."
Reid's defense was plenty aggressive, too. Philadelphia took advantage of three takeaways to score 24 points during a 9-minute span in the second quarter, and later sent Miami quarterback Matt Moore to the sideline with a head injury.
The Eagles (5-8) won for only the second time in six games and need a sweep of the final three games to have any chance of repeating as NFC East champions.
"We played like men today," said Jason Babin, who matched a career high with three sacks. "Do we have a chance for the playoffs? Maybe. We were kind of out of it, but guys in this locker room decided, 'We're going to play and have fun and show you guys we love the game.' I think that really rang true the whole day."
The Dolphins (4-9) had won four of their past five games, but now they're assured of a losing record for the third year in a row. Miami lost despite holding the Eagles' potent offense to 239 yards.
"I feel like we kind of handed them this game," said Miami's Reggie Bush, who ran for 103 yards.
"I'm in a lot of pain, but I just wanted to finish and get through the game," Vick said. "I got hit a lot, and it kind of wore me down. I tried to hang in there."
Miami Pro Bowl tackle Jake Long left the game in the first quarter with a back injury, and after that the Dolphins had trouble blocking Philadelphia. The Eagles' short-yardage defense stuffed Miami on four possessions, twice on fourth down and twice to force kicks.
The Dolphins went 3 for 18 on third- and fourth-down conversions. The nine sacks of their QBs equaled a franchise record set in 1999, and the total tied for the third-most by an Eagles defense.
Babin forced a fumble and increased his season sack total to 15. Moore's replacement, J.P. Losman, was sacked by Phillip Hunt for a safety.
"We had some new blitzes that everybody bought into, and the defense was really excited about them," Babin said. "When we ran them, we ran them with ferocity."
Miami's lone touchdown was set up by an early blocked punt. Marshall was held to four catches for 27 yards.
"There comes a time when we as players and coaches have to do a better job of getting guys involved that need to be involved," Marshall said. "It just didn't seem like we had anything on offense in the second half that could attack what they were throwing at us."
The Dolphins' offensive ineptitude negated a lot of good work by their defense. LeSean McCoy, who came into the game second in the NFL in rushing, netted only 38 yards in 27 carries. Jason Taylor sacked Vick twice in the first 8 minutes to increase his career total to 138 1/2, which ranks sixth all time.
But after the Dolphins took a 7-0 lead, they committed a flurry of turnovers that led to 17 points for the Eagles.
Kurt Coleman intercepted Moore's pass when he threw deep into triple coverage, and his return to the 1 set up a touchdown run by McCoy.
On the next series, Samuel forced a fumble by Davone Bess and recovered, and the Eagles kicked a field goal. After Moore lost a fumble when he was sacked by Babin, the Eagles then moved 73 yards in just four plays, and Vick's strike to a wide-open Jackson made it 24-7.
"That's how games are won in this league," Vick said. "The teams that get the turnovers usually win."
Notes: Eagles LB Darryl Tapp injured a rib on the safety and left the game. X-rays were negative, and he was scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday. ... Receiver Jeremy Maclin departed when the sore hamstring he has been nursing tightened. ... Honored at halftime was Howard Schnellenberger, who recently retired as coach at Florida Atlantic. He was the Dolphins' offensive coordinator during their 1972 perfect season. ... A Dolphins assistant coach was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than 3 minutes left.