MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — For the third week in a row, as part of their third loss in a row, the Eagles were victims of a trick play.
This time, facing fourth-and-goal from the Eagles’ 1 in the second quarter, the Miami Dolphins lined up in a goofy formation in which punter Matt Haak took the snap from center and rolled to his left, with only the center protecting him.
Various Eagles tried to sort out various potential receivers lined up to Haak’s left, as he rolled. Defensive end Josh Sweat seemed to decide he needed to keep Haak from running the ball in, so he charged the line. Kicker Jason Sanders, lined up in front of Sweat, slipped behind him for an easy-toss touchdown.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson insisted his team was ready for Miami shenanigans, but it sure didn’t look ready. Pederson could have called timeout when the funky aligment was unveiled. He did not.
“We knew they were going to throw everything out there," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "They just made a good play on that play. We don’t let that happen, it might be a different outcome.
“It definitely caught us by surprise, because he was wide open.”
“We’ve been pretty unlucky with trick plays lately,” said linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who called it the best trick play he had ever seen, something Philly Special partisans might find debatable.
“Like, that’s not – that doesn’t happen,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said when asked his reaction to the play in practice. "I didn’t think it would ever be called in a game. But pretty cool – pretty cool that it worked.”
Sanders said the Eagles gave Miami the defensive look it was looking for to run the play, then Haak "held onto the ball as long as he could, and once I got off [the line], he got it to me.”
Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, just activated from injured reserve, was active and played a good number of snaps in special packages. LeBlanc said he was disappointed in the way the defense played, but he felt fine physically.
Ronald Darby’s first-play interception brought to mind LeBlanc’s interception of Drew Brees in the same situation back in January, as the Eagles lost to the Saints in the playoffs. So that’s two losses the last two times the Eagles have intercepted the opposing quarterback on the first play.
Sidney Jones, the disappointing 2017 second-round corner, was healthy but inactive for the second time this season.
Also inactive were third quarterback Nate Sudfeld, running back Jordan Howard (shoulder), defensive end Shareef Miller, center Nate Herbig, guard/tackle Matt Pryor ,and defensive end Daeshon Hall.
Doug Pederson promised a bigger role for rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, which really wasn’t all that evident, although Arcega-Whiteside did make one catch for 15 yards and his first NFL touchdown. He was targeted twice.