HOUSTON — The Houston Texans set up one of the toughest fights the Philadelphia Eagles have seen this season, but Philly managed to prevail, 29-17, and preserve their undefeated start to the season. The Eagles are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history, while the Texans improved to 1-6-1 this season on “Thursday Night Football” at NRG Stadium.
Strategist Jalen hurtsThe homecoming turned out to be a historic night, as it helped guide the Eagles to their first 8-0 start. It wasn’t always pretty, but he rose to the occasion, throwing a pair of touchdown passes – including a 17-yard strike to wide receiver A.J. Brown in the third quarter – to keep the undefeated bandwagon going.
A mid-season MVP contender, Hurts threw at least two touchdown passes in three straight games for the first time in his career. He has up to 18 touchdowns (12 assists, six rushing) with two interceptions in eight games.
Describe the game in two words: Temporarily uncomfortable. With the Texans one win away missing their two starting receivers, it seemed like a total mismatch. But Thursday’s road games are tricky, and the Eagles have been uncharacteristically sloppy at times, as illustrated by their first lost fumble of the season on a play where Hurts didn’t look ready for the ball when it was snapped. The game was tied at halftime – the first time Philly did not lead after two quarters – but the Eagles gradually took command as the second half progressed.
Disturbing trend: Eagles’ first game without a rookie defensive tackle jordan davis, who was just placed on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, proved problematic for the rushing defense. Houston running back Dameon Pierce went for 139 yards on 27 carries. Philly’s tackling was often poor and the running lanes too wide. Davis made the difference. Going into the game, the Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per carry with him on the court (70 carries) compared to 6 yards per carry with him off the court (112 carries).
Pivot play: CJ Gardner Johnson came with his league-leading fifth interception of the season midway through the third quarter, setting up Hurts’ touchdown pass to Brown. The Eagles’ first possession in the second half quickly stalled on the running back Miles Sander was stuffed with third and short, swinging the momentum in favor of Houston. But Gardner-Johnson swung it right away with a diving pick midway through third down. –Tim McManus
Underestimated statistics namely: Gardner-Johnson now has one interception in four straight games, tied for the longest streak by an Eagles player since the merger (Bill Bradley in 1972).
Next game: versus. Washington Commanders (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 14)
The Texans were 14-point underdogs against the Eagles but managed to put up a respectable fight. They entered the half tied 14-14, but Houston’s defense struggled with the pass and ran as Hurts threw for two touchdowns, and the Eagles offense rushed for two touchdowns.
The Texans offense was led by rookie Pierce, who finished with 139 rushing yards. It relieved the quarterback Davis Millswho was deprived of his two best receivers in brandin cooks and nico collins. Pierce’s strong performance allowed Mills to be effective throwing two touchdowns. But he had a couple of second-half interceptions that crushed the Texans’ chances of victory.
Promising trend: Pierce battled the Tennessee Titans last week as he finished with 35 yards on 15 carries, his second-lowest yardage production for the season. But Pierce bounced back in a big way, finishing with a season-high 139 yards. Without Pierce, the game would have been over at halftime.
Buy on exceptional performance: Houston’s pass rush is improving. He produced four sacks against the Eagles, who have one of the best offensive lines in the league. The Texans also had 10 pressures on 31 surrenders, according to Next Gen Stats. If they can produce pressure against that offensive line when they play the New York Giants in Week 10, they should be able to build on that momentum, as the Giants have allowed quarterbacks to be fired 25 times, which ranks in the top 10. — DJ Beloved
Underestimated statistics namely: Mills was running at 16.04 mph when he threw a 13-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter at Chris Moore – just the third TD this season launched while running so fast.
Next game: at the Giants (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 13)