The Dolphins had an opportunity to face off with one of the league's best teams on the road in prime time, but a dominant fourth quarter helped the defending NFC champions pull away on their home turf.
Here are the takeaways from Miami's 31-17 loss in Philadelphia.
1. Plenty to clean up
Tests like this during the regular season provides quality prep-work for important games when the calendar turns to the new year. Everything Miami wishes to achieve remains in front of them. We'll get to that shortly, because for the Dolphins to capitalize on those future opportunities, they must first look inward.
There were several things the Dolphins would like to clean up, like a delay of game on the first play of the game, a timeout to open a critical drive late in the third quarter, pre-snap infractions and an interception in the end zone. On balance, the Dolphins have flipped the script on many of those issues compared to 2022, but they crept up again on Sunday night and played a factor in the loss.
The 10 penalties issued against Miami consistently put the offense behind the chains and wiped out a go-ahead touchdown in the first quarter. Against a team as good as the Eagles, in that environment, the Dolphins must play with fewer mistakes to secure a big victory.
2. Strong response to adversity
Miami trailed 17-3 with 2:03 to play in the first half, facing a third-and-18. Tua Tagovailoa delivered a 30-yard strike to Cedrick Wilson Jr. to extend the drive and keep Jalen Hurts and the Eagles on the sideline. Five plays later, facing third-and-long again, Tagovailoa threw a beautiful pass to the back pylon for his favorite target, Tyreek Hill. Hill caught his seventh touchdown in as many games after splitting a double team to bring Miami back to within a touchdown.
Then, late in the third quarter, after a potentially devastating turnover on downs, the defense barked back with an interception returned for six by Jerome Baker.
The Dolphins crawled back into the game, in a tough environment, before the Eagles ultimately pulled away. Miami held the NFL's top second-ranked rushing attack – second only to the Dolphins – to just 98 yards on 34 carries. The defense also took the ball away twice, including a score of their own with the pick-six.
3. Seeing the forest for the trees
We've covered the holding call that wiped out a touchdown. There were also a couple of no calls that resulted in turnovers in the low red zone in situations where a flag would've set Miami up first and goal. So Miami was that close to matching points with the Eagles.
The Dolphins are also due to get some pieces back in the coming weeks. Two of Miami's best players in cornerback Xavien Howard and center Connor Williams were inactive due to injury Sunday night. Then Miami lost left guard Isaiah Wynn on the first possession, leaving them without starters at left tackle, left guard and center against one of the best defensive fronts in the league. Miami also hopes to get cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Nik Needham back soon.
Other in-game injuries included the loss of Jaylen Waddle and Jevon Holland for a period of time, though both eventually returned, and David Long Jr., who did not return after making several impactful plays in the game.
Miami sits atop the AFC East at 5-2 and everything is in front of them as the season hasn't even hit the halfway point yet. There's 10 more games, and hopefully more, left in this season. Miami has a lot of work to do, but the Dolphins are in a good spot.
For more analysis, takeaways and breakdowns, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.