Perhaps karma is real.
Because the Dolphins’ luck has been due to change for weeks. On Sunday, it finally did.
With their season hanging by a thread, the Dolphins, for once, got all the breaks Sunday and broke through with a consequential 20-19 victory over the Eagles.
They knocked Philadelphia’s quarterback, Sam Bradford, from the game. And the familiar face who replaced him — Mark Sanchez — reverted to his familiar role.
He threw the game away.
More specifically, he threw the ball into the arms of Reshad Jones, an end-zone interception that doomed the Eagles and snapped the Dolphins’ two-game losing streak.
“I wouldn’t say we need it,” Rishard Matthews said, when asked about the Dolphins’ change in fortunes Sunday, “but we’ll take it.”
Added tackle Branden Albert: “Sometimes it happens for the other team. Why not happen for us? It happened for us today. Caused us to get a win. Fortunate for us.”
going their way
The Sanchez gift. A pop-fly touchdown. And a special special-teams play.
The Dolphins (4-5) needed all three Sunday.
Here they are, ordered chronologically:
▪ Midway through the second quarter and with the Dolphins down 10, special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi dialed up a punt-block play-call. Zach Vigil burst through the line, ran through personal protector Chris Maragos, and swatted back Donnie Jones’ kick.
“Coach Rizz did a good job, and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time,” Vigil said. “Block was on. Done what we had practiced all week. Had a one-on-one with the [personal protector], and made the most of it.”
Two plays later, the Dolphins were in the end zone. Ryan Tannehill connected with Lamar Miller on a 13-yard pass and run.
“That was a huge play and you could feel the momentum swing back in our favor,” coach Dan Campbell said. “I think it gave us a little breath of life and the ability to continue to fight.”
▪ On the stat sheet, the go-ahead touchdown is described simply as a 4-yard pass from Tannehill to Jarvis Landry. That doesn’t begin to do it justice.
The Dolphins had a first-and-goal and Landry, lined up on the boundary, ran an in-breaking route. Tannehill released the ball with pass-rusher Connor Barwin in his face. Barwin deflected the pass, causing it to pop straight up — and in the direction of Landry.
“It seemed like it was up there for about 10 seconds,” said Tannehill, who completed 21 of 36 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. “As a quarterback, when the ball goes up like that, good things tend not to happen.”
Not on this day, however. Malcolm Jenkins, who was in coverage, didn’t realize that the ball was tipped until it was too late. Landry leaped, caught the ball on his way down, and tucked it away.
“Once I saw the ball in the air, especially there, I knew it was them or us,” Landry said. “Mentally, I thought about it as the ball was coming down, ‘Somebody can hit me right now because there’s no pass interference any more.’ Immediately, I was trying to get off the ground as fast as possible, go up strong, and came down with it.”
▪ The Eagles’ fate might have been sealed when Chris McCain fell on Bradford in the third quarter, concussing Philadelphia’s quarterback and hurting his non-throwing shoulder.
Because Sanchez again made a terrible mistake at a terrible time.
making a play
Late in the game, all the Eagles needed was a field goal for the lead. Instead, Sanchez forced a pass to Miles Austin on second-and-goal.
Austin, who ran a crossing route, was in position if the pass was perfect. It was far from. Sanchez threw behind his receiver, and Jones was in position for his third interception in five games.
“They were running crossing routes the whole game,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘Just jump on it.’ I made the play.”
Added Tannehill: “We stuck together and just kept fighting. I think, obviously, it wasn’t pretty, but I think all three sides of the ball came up with big plays when it mattered.”