Observations: Eagles 31, Texans 21
HOUSTON — Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ 31-21 win over the Texans.
* The Eagles got back to their roots and ran the ball all over the Texans on Sunday afternoon. LeSean McCoy finished with 117 yards on 23 carries. Chris Polk added eight for 50. And Darren Sproles ran three times for 17 yards. The Eagles put together a four-play, 70-yard touchdown drive in the third, and all four plays were run calls.
* In the fourth, they put together a 15-play, 80-yard drive to seal the win. Mark Sanchez found Jeremy Maclin for an 8-yard touchdown. The throw was where only Maclin could catch it, and Maclin made a fantastic grab.The Eagles’ wide receiver had another monster game with six grabs for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
* Nick Foles went down on the last play of the first quarter with a shoulder injury, and Sanchez replaced him. While he was in the game, Foles went 10-for-13 for 124 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He connected with Maclin on a 59-yard touchdown on a deep post in the first quarter. Later, Foles was pressured by J.J. Watt and threw his 10th interception of the season. It was returned for a touchdown.
* Sanchez went 15-for-22 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. One pick bounced off of Josh Huff’s hands. The other was intended for Riley Cooper in the second half. In addition to the touchdown to Maclin, Sanchez threw a beautiful pass to Jordan Matthews for an 11-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The ball got there before the cornerback turned his head and was perfectly placed. Sanchez also hit Maclin on a 52-yard bomb.
* Sproles was fantastic and came up with some key plays in the passing game. He finished with four catches for 46 yards.
* Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles faced a 4th-and-1 from inside the Texans’ 5. Chip Kelly went for it, and Polk took the ball right up the middle for a first down. The spot was challenged by Bill O’Brien, but the ruling on the field was upheld.
* On third down of their final drive of the first half, the Eagles let Watt through, and he sacked Sanchez. Cody Parkey hit a 45-yard field goal.
* The Eagles came into the game turning it over on 19.8 percent of their offensive possessions, worst in the league. They had four giveaways today, although one was by DeMeco Ryans.
* Eagles quarterbacks were sacked four times.
* Minus a few big plays, the Eagles’ defense held up well. Late in the second quarter, Arian Foster got matched up on Connor Barwin and ran a wheel route down the right sideline. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass got behind Barwin’s outstretched hand, and Foster took the ball 56 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins got free on a crossing route for a 45-yard gain in the third. Hopkins later picked up 21 on a crosser, and he beat Earl Wolff on a corner route for a touchdown.
* Big play at the end of the third quarter. Ryans intercepted Fitzpatrick, but injured his ankle and fumbled the ball. He was carted off and did not return. Pretty much all the Eagles players came over to greet him. So did many Texans players. Ryans is widely liked and respected in the locker room and around the league. We’ll see what the injury is. Casey Matthews ended up replacing him.
* Foster came in averaging 6.3 YPC. But he carried 15 times for 56 (3.7 YPC). Mychal Kendricks looked like his old self with a team-high 12 tackles.
* The Eagles had four sacks. On one, coverage made Fitzpatrick hold it for five or six seconds, and Brandon Bair and Beau Allen combined to take him down. Later, Kendricks beat Foster in pass protection and sacked Fitzpatrick. And Brandon Graham brought him down from behind. In the second half, Trent Cole pressured Fitzpatrick, and Connor Barwin got the sack.
* Hopkins had six catches for 115 yards, but Andre Johnson only had two for 12.
* Fitzpatrick went 13-for 27 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
* The Eagles improved to 6-2 on the year and in sole possession of first place after the Cowboys lost to the Cardinals.