Eagles vs. Texans: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Eagles improved to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history on Thursday night after a tougher-than-looked 29-17 win over the fiery Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.

It looked a bit risky until security CJ Gardner Johnson dove for a third-quarter interception, breaking a first-half tie.

Jalen hurts finished 21 of 27 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Dallas Goedert completed a record eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, tackle Javon Hargrave had its best game as an Eagles, with seven tackles and three sacks leading the team.

The Eagles struggled with punitive Houston tailback Dameon Pierce, who gained 139 yards on 27 carries. It was the second time this season the Eagles allowed a rusher to rush for more than 100 yards, and the first time since former St. Joe’s Prep star and Detroit Lions tailback D’Andre Swift gained 144 yards against the Eagles in the season opener.

As a team, the Texans rushed for 168 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.

Davis Mills shredded the Eagles defense on Houston’s first practice and didn’t do much more after that. He finished with just 13 of 22 attempts and two interceptions.

There was good, as well as a fair amount of bad and bad in the Eagles’ 29-17 win over the Houston Texans.

Good

Gardner JohnsonThe NFL’s fifth-leading and career interception on a third-and-six at the Houston 17 was a game-changer with 8:13 left in the third quarter. Two games later, Hurts found A.J. Brown for a 17-yard touchdown and a 21-14 lead for the Eagles.

Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni showing great confidence early on going for the touchdown on the Eagles’ first series. The gigantic 18 plays, 91 yards, 8 minutes, 4 seconds ended on a Miles Sander‘ two-yard run.

Left tackle Jordan MailataHouston’s block on Houston defensive end Rasheem Green on Sanders’ two-yard run. Mailata just directed Green where he wanted to go, creating an open door for Sanders to enter the end zone.

On a third and nine at 50 with just under 11:00 into the half, HargraveMills’ six-yard sack forced a Houston punt. The Eagles took their first lead on the next possession. Hargrave had his second sack when he caught Davis for a four-yard loss with 9:03 left and the Eagles ahead, 29-17. He finished the night with a third sack for a loss of nine yards to the Eagles’ 21.

During the Eagles’ third drive, Sanders exploding for a total of 38 meters on the ground, which set up Kenneth Gainwellfour-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles their first lead. Recipient pascal pascal provided a nice block downfield on Sanders’ 13-yard run, and Mailata created a gaping hole by sending out Houston’s Mario Addison on Sanders’ 25-yard gain. left guard Landon Dickerson reached the second level to block linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin.

Dickersonagainst Houston linebacker Christian Harris on Gainwell’s touchdown.

On a third-and-eight at the Houston 20 on the Eagles’ opening possession, Hurts hitting Godert for a gain of 16 yards and the second conversion on third and eight first downs. The Eagles converted each of the three third downs they faced in their opener.

On a third and eight to the Eagles 46 on their first possession, the Eagles ran away with a tackle Lane Johnson jump offside and somehow the officials missed it. Fortunately, AJ Brown didn’t miss Hurts’ nine-yard completion that converted another third for the Eagles.

During the Eagles’ first practice, Hurts hit Quez Watkins with a six-yard pass on a third and six on the Eagles’ 21. It got the Eagles off to a bad start.

Godert caught a game-high eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. His four-yard TD pass from Hurts put the Eagles up, 29-17, with 11:22 left.

Linebacker Haason Reddick beating a pass on a first-and-10 for the Eagles with 3:03 left.

Cornerback James Bradberryit is interception on the Eagles’ three with 2:03 to play.

The bad

With 12:09 to go in the half, Hurts fumbles the ball at the Houston 35. Center Jason Kelce may have made a rare mistake by breaking the ball when Hurts was unaware he was coming. The miscommunication nullified a strong drive and was the first lost fumble (and third overall turnover) the Eagles had this season.

Linebacker Shaun Bradley getting nailed for a hold call on the ensuing kickoff after the Texans scored in their first practice. The flag put the Eagles back to their nine on their first drive.

Bradberry completely lose Texans wide receiver Phillip Dorsett on a first-and-10 for the Eagles 40. Davis hit Dorsett with a 32-yard pass to the Eagles’ six. Dorsett ran right past Bradberry. Two plays later, Houston scored.

Cornerback Avonte MaddoxRex Burkhead’s missed tackle in the Texans’ first drive, the Eagles’ third and fifth of 46. Davis hit Burkhead on a short pass to the right with Maddox converging on him. Burkhead simply avoided it and extended the ride. Maddox then missed Chris Moore on a second-and-14 at the Houston 21 in the third quarter. Maddox’s whiff turned into a 25-yard gain, which then led to a 30-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn with 1:15 left in the third quarter.

The ugly one

The defense of eagles on the first drive of the Texans game. It was the first time Houston scored on its first possession this season. Pierce rose to prominence beating the Eagles for 23 yards on four carries, and the Eagles made Mills look like second-coming Joe Montana, allowing him to go four of four for 50 yards, including a touchdown. It was a nine-game 75-yard practice and the Texans made it look easy.

Security Marcus Epps missing the tackle on Pierce’s 36-yard run in the second quarter, which set up the tying score for Houston. Pierce ran through Epps and the cornerback Darius Kill. The game placed the Texans 27th out of the Eagles on the two-minute warning. Three games later, Houston tied the score at 14-14. Pierce had 88 rushing yards at halftime.

After a very good first half by Mailata, the left tackle was beaten hard – twice – by 34-year-old defensive end Jerry Hughes, who sacked Hurts for less than 15 yards on two of the Eagles’ first three plays in the second half. The smaller Hughes simply beat Mailata with his speed. Mailata had a difficult second half. He was then called for an illegal man-in-the-field penalty, knocking out a catch from Goedert from 15 yards.

Hargravewith 10:38 to go. He came on a second-and-eight at the Houston 27.


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep”. He is best known for his award-winning article on ESPN.com about high school wrestler AJ Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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