The fairy tale had to end sometime.
Despite their monumentally disappointing play this season, the Eagles are easily the most talented team the 'Fins have faced since their fortunes turned in Week 9—and the discrepancy in talent was clear. Philly overwhelmed Miami's offense, sacking Matt Moore and J.P. Losman a combined nine times.
The Dolphins' defense enjoyed another outstanding performance, but the offense's inability to generate points led to the loss.
From Jared Odrick and Jason Taylor to Tony Sparano and Daniel Thomas, here's nine lessons to take away from Sunday's loss.
After five weeks of flawless play, Matt Moore was starting to look sub-human. He has played so perfectly that expectations have started to soar.
However, Sunday's game served as a reminder that Moore is far from elite.
Philadelphia's fierce pass rush made Moore visibly unsettled, and he threw his first interception since Week 10. Jake Long's early departure significantly weakened Miami's pass protection, but it seems as though Moore can only succeed when his offensive line plays extraordinarily well. He completed 11 of 19 passes for just 95 yards.
It's difficult to criticize Moore, but today's game offered a reminder that the Dolphins still need to find a franchise quarterback.
Early Sunday morning, Armando Salguero published a story about Tony Sparano's future with the 'Fins. Citing a team source, Salguero said:
But, as it’s explained to me, believing Sparano will absolutely keep his job even if the Dolphins win out and finish 8-8 is a mistake. It’s possible the Dolphins play very well these final four games, win out, and Sparano still gets fired anyway.
If an 8-8 finish wouldn't have convinced Ross to definitely keep Sparano, then we can say our farewells now. A blowout loss at home is the last thing Sparano needed, and Sunday's game marks the beginning of the end for Miami's head coach.
Miami's run defense has been impenetrable over the past few weeks, but LeSean McCoy figured to give them some trouble on Sunday. McCoy is the NFL's leading rusher, but even he couldn't muster success against the Dolphins' front seven.
On 27 carries, McCoy ran for just 48 yards.
If this doesn't cement the Dolphins' front seven as elite, then nothing will.
Just when you think Jason Taylor has reached the end of the line, he resurfaces with a multi-sack game.
Taylor registered a pair of sacks and three quarterback hits on the elusive Michael Vick on Sunday, showing that he still has the strength and athleticism to play at a very high level.
Now that the Dolphins have generated so much momentum and primed themselves for a rebound season in 2012, Taylor could and should stick around for one last season.
The Dolphins' special teams have been defined by futility over the past few seasons, but things are starting to take a turn for the better.
Miami blocked their second punt of the season, Brandon Fields averaged a ludicrous 53 yards per punt (he continues his campaign for Team MVP), and DeSean Jackson was shut down on all four of his punt returns.
Miami's special teams is trending upwards, and that bodes very well for their future.
When the Dolphins drafted Jared Odrick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, he hardly cracked the headlines. Few 3-4 defensive ends really ascend to stardom, and Odrick didn't project as a deviation from the norm.
However, he is slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Odrick only racked up two tackles and one pass deflection, but he gave Philadelphia's stud left tackle Jason Peters problems all day.
With four sacks and a slew of great performances on the season, Odrick might be primed for stardom down the road.
If you win, they will come.
That mantra basically epitomizes the average Miami sports fan, and it proved valid today. Even though Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweeted that he "saw A LOT of Eagles jerseys in the stands," the crowd played in the Dolphins' favor.
Backed up near their own end zone late in the first quarter, the Eagles had back-to-back false start penalties. Miami's crowd is at least partially—if not fully—responsible for Philly's mistakes.
It's always encouraging to see this city get behind a team even when they aren't necessarily contenders.
Once Jake Long left the game with a back injury, Miami's offensive line looked like an entirely different unit.
Granted the Eagles sent overwhelmingly heavy blitzes after Long's departure, they racked up a whopping nine sacks. That is flat out inexcusable. No team can even compete if their quarterback is being constantly pressured like that.
Prior to the Dolphins win streak, the offensive line was a regular point of discussion. After today's horrid performance, the spotlight will return to them. Miami desperately needs to pursue a right tackle and guard this offseason, or no quarterback will succeed.
The Dolphins have struggled with third down conversions all season long, but they hit rock bottom on Sunday. Miami converted only three-of-15 third downs.
Their inability to convert short yardage situations can be traced directly back to Daniel Thomas and Lex Hilliard. Both were allotted multiple opportunities to convert third-and-short situations, and both failed multiple times.
Reggie Bush continues to be the only reliable back on Miami's roster. Even though Daniel Thomas enjoyed a solid game last week, he has played terribly this season. He ran for four yards on seven carries today, and the 'Fins might be in the market for another back this offseason.