MIAMI - Andy Reid has his players sold on a concept:

With four games left, they have a microseason in which to rectify a disastrous 3 months. The result: an all-out effort from the Eagles in an upset road win over the Dolphins, 26-10.

"This is the start of our new season," said cornerback Asante Samuel, who forced a fumble that turned the game's tide. "We still believe . . . We believe we can still get in these playoffs. We're 3-1 in the division."

They're also 5-8 overall. It would take a series of unlikely events for them to secure a wild-card berth, but conceivably they could catch the Cowboys and Giants, who are both 7-6 after New York's come-from-behind, 37-34 win last night. Those teams are tied atop the NFC East.

Where there is a glimmer of hope, there can be a supernova of effort.

Well, maybe a nova, anyway.

"We're going to fight," said left tackle Jason Peters. "Anybody who knows the Eagles knows we're going to fight. We're going to finish this thing out the best we know how."

All season, Reid has insisted that his team practiced and played hard.

All season, there was reason to doubt that.

But not yesterday.

The Eagles sacked the Dolphins quarterbacks nine times and knocked starter Matt Moore out of the game. They forced three turnovers. The Dolphins converted just three of 15 third downs. The Eagles scored 24 points in the second quarter.

The Dolphins entered the game 4-8, but they had won four of their previous five games.

"You're not going to beat a good football team without the effort," Reid said.

Maybe a little more effort, or more consistent effort, would have flipped the Eagles' record and put them on top of the division. Instead, they see themselves hoping to beat the visiting Jets next week, roll Dallas on the road on Christmas Eve, then finish with the weak Redskins at home.

And they're asking Santa for a couple of losses from the Giants and Cowboys.

"We have a chance," said tight end Brent Celek. "That's all you can ask for, especially with the position we left ourselves in. We have to capitalize on every little opportunity that we have."

Yesterday, in the new season, they went 1-0.