MIAMI, Fla. — On a sunny Miami football field, surrounded by a well-traveling fan base on a Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles fell 37-31 to the Miami Dolphins — one of the worst teams in the National Football League.
The loss was the Eagles’ third straight. The previous two losses were to the 10-1 New England Patriots and the 9-2 Seattle Seahawks. Penalties, inconsistent offense, and an exhausted, porous defense were among the problem areas.
In their postgame press conferences, head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz reiterated a tired refrain, and reworded messages they’ve been sending disgruntled fans for the past several weeks.
Pederson repeatedly called the 3-9 Dolphins “a good football team” and credited them for their effort. Wentz said he was frustrated by the loss, but the league moves too fast to allow time to feel bad or “get pissed off.”
Here’s a breakdown of some of the coach’s and quarterback’s comments:
On whether the team didn’t prepare enough for the Dolphins:
Pederson: “I mean, that’s a good football team. ... The lack of consistency all around is the most disappointing thing.”
Wentz: "We don’t overlook anybody. Hats off to them. They came out today and played a good game. ... I don’t think anybody in this locker room overlooks anybody. This is the National Football League. There aren’t any slouches out there.”
On whether the team leaders failed to step up:
Pederson: “Um, you know what, that’s on me. I got to make sure I’m doing my part. I’m the main leader on this team.”
Wentz: “Collectively, I think as a team we’re coming up short. ... I’ve got to be better in those big-time situations."
On what the leaders have to do this week:
Wentz: “Any time we come off a loss, just make sure no one’s pointing fingers, everybody’s together. ... You got to keep rallying the troops. To me, we only know how to do one thing: to go back to work.”
On the mindset looking ahead, with the NFC East still within reach:
Pederson: “That’s the thing, as crazy as it is, I’d say its a long shot, but we’re not out of it (the division race). ... The guys have to understand that. ... We’re still fighting and coming to work this week ready to go and figure this thing out.”
Wentz: “For me, my belief in everybody in that locker room doesn’t change. We obviously fell short today ... I’ve seen crazier (than a team going on a playoff run after three straight losses like this). We’ve just got to find a way to get back on top next week, go 1-0 next week.”
On whether locker-room demoralization could compound the loss:
Pederson: “You know, I think there will probably be a little bit of that. That’s the thing in my position that I have to make sure the team understands. ... We’re still a good football team. ... We self-destructed in a couple areas today and that hurt us.”
Wentz: “Obviously, we had a couple bad showings. ... I believe in the defense. I believe in the offense. I think we’re going to get this thing going in the right direction.”
Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns and Miami scored 23 unanswered points to hang on for its 37-31 win.
Fitzpatrick completed 27 of 39 passes and rallied the Dolphins (3-9) from a 28-14 deficit. Wide receiver DeVante Parker had seven catches for a career-high 159 yards and two scores.
Wentz, the fourth-year quarterback from North Dakota State, was 28 of 46 for 310 yards and three touchdowns, but the Eagles dropped their third in a row and fell to 5-7.
The Eagles did close within 37-31 late on Jake Elliott's third field goal. Their onside kick was recovered by the Dolphins.
Wentz tossed a Hail Mary into the end zone on the final play but the pass was intercepted.
Trailing 10-0, Fitzpatrick rallied to toss a 43-yard touchdown pass to Parker, who outjumped Ronald Darby and scampered down the sideline.
Down 13-7, the Dolphins scored on a trick play as punter Matt Haack tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to kicker Jason Sanders with 4:40 left in the second for a 14-13 lead. Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass since Jim Turner of the Denver Broncos in 1977.
But the Eagles responded as Wentz threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time a 15-yarder to rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with six seconds left. After a successful two-point conversion, the Eagles took a 21-14 lead.
On their first drive of the second half, the Eagles marched down the field and Wentz threw his third touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to Alshon Jeffery for a 28-14 advantage.
Parker hauled in his second touchdown catch, a 17-yarder from Fitzpatrick to close the Dolphins within 28-20 with 8:45 left in the third. The extra point sailed wide right.
Miami cut into the lead again as Mike Gesicki caught a 14-yard touchdown from Fitzpatrick with 1:10 remaining in the third. The two-point conversion failed.
The Dolphins scored a touchdown on their fifth straight possession and pushed ahead 34-28 with 11:06 to go in the fourth as Patrick Laird plunged in from 4 yards out. Laird also caught the two-point conversion pass from Fitzpatrick.
Sanders drilled a 51-yard field goal with 3:37 left for a 37-28 Miami advantage.