Houston Texans vs. Eagles: The Houston Texans gave the Philadelphia Eagles one of their toughest tests of the season but the Eagles came out on top 29-17 to keep their perfect record intact. After Thursday night’s game against the Texans on “Thursday Night Football” at NRG Stadium the Eagles improved to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history while the Texans fell to 1-6-1.
Houston Texans vs. Eagles
When Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts returned to his hometown he led the team to its first-ever 8-0 start. It wasn’t always nice, but he stepped up and threw two touchdown passes one of which was the game-winning 17-yard strike to wide receiver A.J. Brown in the third quarter.
Hurts who has thrown at least two touchdown passes in three consecutive games for the first time in his career is an MVP candidate around the midway point of the season. He has scored 18 total touchdowns (12 passing, 6 rushings) and has only turned the ball over twice in eight games.
If you had to sum up the game in two words what would they be? Feeling uneasy for the time being. This appeared to be a complete mismatch with the Texans who had only one win playing without their two starting receivers.
Thursday road games are always challenging and the Eagles were occasionally careless, as evidenced by their first lost fumble of the season on a play in which Hurts didn’t appear ready for the ball when it was snapped. It was the first time in franchise history that Philadelphia didn’t have a halftime lead, but the Eagles took control of the game and never looked back.
Worrying trend: The Eagles’ rush defense struggled in their first game without Jordan Davis, a rookie defensive tackle who was just placed on injured reserve with a severe ankle sprain. Dameon Pierce a running back for Houston rushed 27 times for 139 yards. Philly’s rushing lanes were too wide and their tackling was inconsistent.
Davis has made a significant impact. It was previously known that when he was in the game, the Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per rush (on 70 attempts), but that number increased to 6 yards per run when he was not present (112 rushes).
C.J. Gardner-Johnson made a game-changing interception in the middle of the third quarter, giving Hurts the opportunity to throw a touchdown ball to Antonio Brown. A sack of running back Miles Sanders on third-and-short on the Eagles’ first drive of the second half swung momentum back in Houston’s favor. On third down, Gardner-Johnson reversed the momentum with a diving pick over the middle. To quote Tim McManus:
Gardner-four-game Johnson interception streak is tied for the longest by an Eagles player since the merger and should not be overlooked (Bill Bradley in 1972).
Houston Texans vs. Eagles: Halftime Score
Despite being 14-point underdogs to the Eagles the Texans played a competitive game. Halftime score: 14-14. Houston’s defense struggled against the pass and run allowing two touchdown passes to Hurts and two touchdown runs by the Eagles.
Rookie Pierce accounted for 139 rushing yards and led the Texans’ attack. That relieved some of the burdens on quarterback Davis Mills who was playing without his two best receivers (Brandon Cooks and Nicu Collins).
Mills’s effectiveness in tossing two touchdown passes was facilitated by Pierce’s solid play. In the second half he made a couple of crucial interceptions that doomed the Texans’ chances of victory.
The trend is in the right direction: Pierce had a rough outing last week against the Tennessee Titans finishing with only 35 yards on 15 rushes his second-lowest performance of the season. But Pierce came back strong setting a new personal best with 139 yards receiving. The game would have been over by halftime if not for Pierce.
Houston’s pass rush is getting better, so now would be a good time to invest. Even though the Eagles boast one of the league’s finest offensive lines it still managed to deliver four sacks.
Next Gen Stats shows that on 31 attempts the Texans had 10 pressures. New York Giants quarterbacks have been sacked 25 times this season which places them in the top 10 in the league. If they can generate pressure against this offensive line in Week 10 they should be able to ride that momentum into subsequent games.
The fact that Mills completed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore in the second quarter while sprinting 16.04 mph is an interesting and underappreciated fact.
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