The Philadelphia Eagles take on the Houston Texans, moving to 8-0
HOUSTON — The Houston Texans initiate one of the more difficult battles Philadelphia Eagles have seen this season, but Philly was able to win, 29-17, and preserve its undefeated start to the season. The Eagles are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history, while the Texans moved to 1-6-1 on the season during “Thursday Night Football” at NRG Stadium.
Quarterback Jalen HurtsThe homecoming proved to be a historic night, as it helped lead the Eagles to their first 8-0 start. It wasn’t always pretty, but he made it in the moment, throwing a pair of touchdown passes — including a 17-yarder to a wide receiver AJ Brown in the third quarter — to keep the undefeated train going.
An MVP candidate near the halfway point of the season, Hurts has thrown at least two passes in three straight games for the first time in his career. He has 18 touchdowns (12 passing, six rushing) with two interceptions through eight games.
Describe the game in two words: Temporarily uncomfortable. With the Texans missing both starting receivers by one win, this seemed like a complete mismatch. But Thursday’s games on the road are tricky, and the Eagles were uncharacteristically sloppy at times, as illustrated by their first fumble of the season in a game where Hurts didn’t look ready for the ball when it was bounced. The game was tied at halftime — the first time Philly had not led after two quarters — but the Eagles gradually gained command as the second half wore on.
Worrying trend: Eagles first game without a rookie defensive tackle jordan davis, who was just placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain, proved troublesome for the defense in the rush. Houston running back Dameon Pierce went 139 yards on 27 carries. Philly was often poor and the treadmills too wide. Davis was a difference maker. Entering the game, the Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per rush with him on the field (70 rushes) versus 6 yards per rush with him off the field (112 rushes).
Key Game: CJ Gardner-Johnson had his league-leading fifth interception midway through the third quarter, setting up Hurts’ touchdown pass to Brown. The Eagles’ first possession of the second half quickly stalled when they ran back Miles Sanders he was stuffed on third-and-short, swinging in favor of Houston. But Gardner-Johnson swung right back with a diving catch over the middle on third down. — Tim McManus
Underrated stats to know: Gardner-Johnson now has four consecutive interceptions, tied for the longest streak by an Eagles player since the merger (Bill Bradley in 1972).
Next game: vs. Washington Commanders (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 14)
The Texans were a 14-point underdog against the Eagles, but managed to put up a respectable fight. They entered halftime tied 14-14, but Houston’s defense struggled against the pass and run 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 yards. That took the pressure off the quarterback Davis Millswho was without his two main receivers Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. Pierce’s strong performance allowed Mills to be efficient as he threw for two touchdowns. But he had several interceptions in the second half that derailed the Texans’ chances of victory.
Promising trend: Pierce fought back Tennessee Titans last week when he finished with 35 yards on 15 carries, his second-lowest rushing performance of the season. But Pierce bounced back in a huge way by finishing with a season-high 139 yards. Without Pierce, the game would be over by halftime.
Shop at a breakthrough performance: Houston’s pass rush is improving. She 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 downs, according to Next Gen Stats. If they can get pressure on this offensive line when they play New York Giants in Week 10, they should be able to carry that momentum as the Giants have allowed quarterbacks to be sacked 25 times, which ranks in the top 10. — DJ Beloved
Underrated stats to know: Mills was running 16.04 mph when he threw a 13-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Chris Moore — just the third TD thrown this season while running that fast.
Next game: at Giants (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 13)
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