The Eagles have continued their unbeaten start to make history but it did not go all their way in a 29-17 win over the Texans, with Australian Jordan Mailata exposed in a tough mismatch.
The victory on Friday saw Philadelphia maintain its perfect opening to the season, marking its first 8-0 start in franchise history.
Houston, meanwhile, dropped to a 1-6-1 record, although it was a far-improved performance even with top wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins sidelined.
Cooks was one name to watch ahead of this week’s trade deadline and social media activity from the 29-year-old seemed to suggest he was on the move.
For the time being though Cooks is staying put, with no deal before the deadline and head coach Lovie Smith telling reporters he would be “back in the building tomorrow on the team”.
“I told you last week he was excused for personal reasons,” Smith added.
“Part of the personal reasons was some of the things that was going on. I made a coach’s decision. I didn’t think he was ready to play. You don’t practice during the week I don’t think you’re ready to play in the game.”
Going back to the action on the field, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, although he had also lost a fumble.
Hurts was been one of the league’s best quarterbacks this season, hence the Eagles’ 8-0 record, although he faced serious pressure on Friday from a determined Texans defence.
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It was also a tough night for Australian Jordan Mailata, although it opened in promising fashion with strong blocking on an early touchdown for running back Miles Sanders.
Outside of that though, Mailata was constantly targeted by ruthless Houston edge rushers, with Jerry Hughes in particular using his speed and agility to get by and pressure Hurts.
“There he is again and it’s just becoming a mismatch on the left side with Mailata, using that quickness,” Kirk Herbstreit said in commentary for Amazon Prime.
“Right now he’s dominating the left side of that offence.”
On one drive Hughes twice sped past Mailata to sack Hurts as the Eagles quarterback struggled to get into his normal rhythm despite putting in an overall solid showing.
That in itself speaks volumes to Hurts’ development this season, having shown vast improvement in his composure and game awareness under pressure.
Overall though, Philadelphia fans will be hoping it was a one-off for Mailata and that otherwise the Eagles will be better prepared to combat such mismatches of speed.
“Philadelphia did not have a banner night in pass protection, and a lot of the ire can be directed at Jordan Mailata, who struggled with Houston’s edge rushers throughout the game,” Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck wrote.
“The Eagles have been so good in the trenches this year and historically that I think it has been easy to take their dominance up front for granted, and this was a reminder of how quickly your offence can be sent off kilter through no fault of the QB or skill position guys.”
It was a shaky half overall for Philadelphia, who went into the break level with the Texans at 14-all.
The Texans took an early lead when rookie Teagan Quitoriano scored in his NFL debut, with a 34-yard grab from Phillip Dorsett setting up the field position for the touchdown.
The Eagles quickly answered back though as Miles Sanders rushed for a touchdown, enjoying a dominant game on the ground after rushing for 93 yards overall.
The Texans also heavily leant on the ground game, with rookie Dameon Pierce bruising his way through defenders for a career-high 139 yards.
Philadelphia later turned to another running back, this time Kenneth Gainewell, for the second score of the night to cap off a 79-yard drive and take a 14-7 lead.
But it did not even take a minute for Houston to hit right back as Davis Mills found Chris Moore on a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Mills threw for 154 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, an impressive outing given Cooks and Collins were both sidelined.
Hurts, on the other hand, had two of his biggest receiving weapons healthy in A.J. Brown (59 yards, two receiving first downs) and Dallas Goedert (100 yards, six receiving first downs).
Both scored touchdowns in the second half to extend Philadelphia’s lead, with Houston managing just a field goal as Hurts guided his team to victory in his hometown.
The Texans play the Giants next up while the Eagles will look to continue their winning ways against the Commanders.