Early in the game, Michael Vick’s helmet went rolling into his end zone, an apt symbol for the direction of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season.
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Time to concede? Not quite. Not against the self-destructive Miami Dolphins.
Vick made a triumphant return from an injury by throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown, and the Eagles totaled nine sacks and beat the Miami Dolphins 26-10 Sunday.
Philadelphia took advantage of three takeaways to score 24 points during a nine-minute span in the second quarter, and later sent Miami quarterback Matt Moore to the sideline with a head injury.
The underachieving Eagles (5-8) won for only the second time in the past six games and still need a sweep of the final three games to have any chance of repeating as NFC East champions.
”We’ve been through a lot, a lot of games we were supposed to win and didn’t finish,” Vick said. ”I’m proud we won today.”
The Dolphins (4-9) had a three-game home winning streak snapped and sank deeper into last place in the AFC East.
”We’ve been on a roll,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. ”It stinks that our momentum was stopped.”
Jason Babin led the Eagles’ pass rush with three sacks to increase his season total to 15, and he forced a fumble. Moore’s replacement, J.P. Losman, was sacked by Phillip Hunt for a safety.
Vick, back after missing three games with broken ribs, won for only the fourth time in his past 12 starts. He went 15 for 30, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, and shook off four sacks.
”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.”
Vick, who had said he would run less in the wake of the injury, carried only twice but did scramble several times to extend plays. LeSean McCoy rushed for only 38 yards, but scored two touchdowns to hike his season total to 17.
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 Eagles have been inconsistent like we have,” Marshall said. ”But that’s a team with a lot of talent. At any moment they can be an undefeated team, or look like one.”
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 offensive linemen took responsibility for the loss.
”All the blame is squarely on our shoulders,” guard Richie Incognito said. ”We got Matt hurt. They’re a physical group. They just beat us one on one.”
Moore threw only his second interception in the past six games, lost a fumble and was sacked four times. He left the game midway through the second half after being hit from behind as he threw an incomplete pass.
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. McCoy, who came into the game second in the NFL in rushing, averaged only 1.4 yards on 27 carries. Jason Taylor sacked Vick twice in first eight minutes to increase his career total to 138 1/2, which ranks sixth all time.
Miami’s Jimmy Wilson blocked a punt to set up the game’s first score, which came when Moore hit Brandon Marshall on third down for a 16-yard score.
A gamble by the Dolphins then backfired when they tried a 55-yard field goal that fell short. Vick took advantage of the field position to drive his team 54 yards for a tying touchdown, which McCoy scored on a 2-yard run.
Turnovers by Miami on consecutive possessions led to 10 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, Asante Samuel forced a fumble by Davone Bess and recovered, and the Eagles kicked a field goal. After Moore lost a fumble when 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.
”We played like men today,” Babin said. ”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.”
Notes: Eagles LB Darryl Tapp suffered a rib injury on the safety and left the game. X-rays were negative. 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 three minutes left.