HOUSTON – It was tougher than expected but the Eagles persevered to improve to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history with a hard-fought 29-17 win over the upstart Texans.
Few gave Houston much of a chance but the 13-point home underdog stayed in the game into the third quarter before Philadelphia adjusted and went away from a questionable game plan on a short week.
Instead of preying on the 32nd-ranked run defense in the NFL, Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen came out up-tempo and throwing the football.
Defensively, Jonathan Gannon abandoned his five-man fronts early without the injured Jordan Davis, something that allowed impressive Houston rookie running back Dameon Pierce to keep the limited Texans offense on schedule.
Ultimately, the Eagles’ talent won out.
DALLAS GOEDERT – With the Eagles holding a precarious 21-17 lead came the Dallas Goedert drive when the star tight end had four receptions for 41 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts.
Once the Texans jumped offside on the subsequent PAT, the Eagles went for a two-point conversion in which they put Goedert behind Hurts and tell the TE to push the QB forward, something that’s so successful that the prediction here is that the NFL will change the rule back to the before time when you couldn’t aid on a QB sneak.
Goedert has become a dominant player and caught eight of his nine targets for 90 yards and the score.
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MILES SANDERS – The Eagles took too long to get to Sanders but when they did the results were there with the RB1 going for 93 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
Sanders needed a career year in his walk year and the Penn State product is delivering.
JAVON HARGRAVE’S PASS RUSHING – The Eagles’ defensive tackle was a menace on the pass rush with a career-high three sacks against Davis Mills’ poorly-programmed internal clock.
THE GAME PLAN: Maybe the goal was wanting to get Jalen Hurts going in his hometown but the plan should have been obvious with the Texans coming in with a historically poor run defense. A rare miss from the offensive coaching staff this year.
VERSATILITY OF DEFENSIVE FRONTS WITHOUT JORDAN DAVIS – The Eagles went with four-man fronts to start and Pierce started to gash the defense. More five-man stuff came with both Marvin Wilson and Marlon Tuipulotu but it was not nearly as effective as what Davis brings to the defense.
The next three games without Davis could be an issue unless the Eagles figure things out a bit in their mini-bye.
JORDAN MAILATA AGAINST THE SPEED RUSH – As good as he is, Mailata can occasionally still struggle with the speed rush. At 34 Jerry Hughes is still one of the better edge rushers in the league and he adds savvy to his speed which gave Mailata fits at times and had the Eagles adjusting by putting Goedert to his side on occasion.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com’s Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen