Philadelphia Eagles fight off Houston Texans, move to 8-0

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans put up one of the tougher fights the Philadelphia Eagles have seen this season, but Philly prevailed 29-17 to retain their undefeated start to the season. The Eagles are 8-0 for the first time in franchise history while the midseason Texans went 1-6-1 during Monday Night Football at NRG Stadium.

Philly Eagles

Quarterback Jalen Hurts’ homecoming proved to be a historic night as he helped lead the Eagles to their first-ever 8-0 start. It wasn’t always pretty, but he rose to the moment, throwing two touchdown passes — including a 17-yard go-around for wide receiver AJ Brown in the third quarter — to keep the undefeated platoon going.

Hurts, an MVP candidate nearing halfway point in the season, has thrown at least two touchdown passes in three straight games for the first time in his career. He has 18 touchdowns (12 passing, six rushing) with two interceptions in eight games.

Describe the game in two words: Temporarily uncomfortable. With the one-win Texans missing both starting receivers, it seemed like a complete mismatch. But Thursday street games are difficult and the Eagles were unusually sloppy at times, as evidenced by their first losing fumble of the season in a game where Hurts appeared unready for the ball when it was snatched. The game was tied at halftime — the first time Philly hadn’t led after two quarters — but the Eagles gradually gained command over the course of the second half.

Worrying trend: The Eagles’ first game without rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who was just placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain, proved problematic for rush defense. Houston running back Dameon Pierce went off the field with 27 carries for 139 yards. Philly’s tackling was often poor and the lanes too wide. Davis was a difference maker. Early in the game, the Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per rush with him on field (70 rushes) versus 6 yards per rush with him off field (112 rushes).

key game: CJ Gardner-Johnson came up with his league-leading fifth interception of the season midway through the third quarter and set up Hurts’ touchdown pass to Brown. The Eagles’ first possession of the second half quickly faltered when running back Miles Sanders was stuffed on the third and short, swinging swing in Houston’s favor. But Gardner-Johnson swung it right back with a diving ax over mid on the third descent. – Tim McManus

Underestimated statistics to get to know: Gardner-Johnson now has an interception in four straight games, which ranks as 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)


Houston Texans

The Texans were 14-point underdogs against the Eagles but put up a respectable fight back. They went 17-17 at halftime, but Houston’s defense fought the pass and ran when Hurts threw two touchdowns and the Eagles offense rushed for two touchdowns.

The Texans’ offense was led by rookie Pierce, who finished with 139 rush yards. That took pressure off quarterback Davis Mills, who was without his two leading receivers in Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. Pierce’s strong performance allowed Mills to be efficient as he threw for two touchdowns. But he had a couple of second-half interceptions that killed the Texans’ chances of winning.

Promising trend: Pierce struggled against the Tennessee Titans last week when he finished with 35 yards on 15 carries, his second-lowest performance in terms of mileage for the season. But Pierce rebounded tremendously, finishing with 139 yards, a season-high. Without Pierce, the game would have been over at halftime.

Buy on a breakout performance: Houston’s pass rush improves. It produced four sacks against the Eagles, who have one of the best offensive lines in the league. The Texans also had 10 pressure on 31 dropbacks, according to Next Gen Stats. If they can pressure that offensive line in Week 10, they should be able to carry that momentum with them since the Giants have allowed quarterbacks to be sacked 25 times, which is in the top 10. — DJ Bien Aime

Underestimated statistics to get to know: Mills ran 16.04 mph when he threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Moore in the second quarter — only the third TD this season to run that fast.

Next game: at Giants (1pm ET, Nov 13) Philadelphia Eagles fight off Houston Texans, move to 8-0

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