Friday, December 3, 2010
Wrap-up: Eagles 34, Texans 24
By Matt Mosley
The Eagles coughed up a 20-10 halftime lead, but quarterback Michael Vick led them to a 34-24 comeback win in the fourth quarter Thursday night. Let's take a closer look at how it happened:
What it means: The Eagles are in sole possession of first in the NFC East (at least until Sunday afternoon). Philadelphia (8-4), which plays at Dallas in 10 days, will have a great opportunity to be 9-4 when it faces the Giants in two weeks. It was a gut check for the Eagles after they dominated much of the first half. The Texans came roaring back to take a 24-20 lead, but Vick calmly led a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. He took way too many hits in the first half, but he managed to stay on his feet and make some huge plays down the stretch. Vick threw for 302 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for a touchdown. I'm still not sure why Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg allowed Vick to take so much punishment. They could've run the ball more in this game, but that's nothing new.
The real McCoy: Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was too much for the Texans to handle in the open field. He had eight catches for 86 yards and destroyed Houston in the screen game. The Texans dropped seven players back in coverage, but none of them could tackle McCoy in space. He added 44 rushing yards on 12 carries, but he did most of his damage in the passing game. He has become one of the best pass-catching backs in the league. It looked like the Texans weren't adequately prepared for his quickness. It was just a brilliant performance by McCoy, who reminds me a lot of Brian Westbrook when he gets in the open field. He makes defenders look really bad.
A huge play by Brent Celek: Clinging to a 27-24 lead with 6:36 left, the Eagles faced a third-and-19 from Houston's 24-yard line. Vick threw a short pass to Celek, who was ruled down after an 18-yard gain. Replays showed that he was able to whip his body around and reach past the first-down marker, and Celek campaigned for Reid to throw the challenge flag. Reid, not known for his game management skills, wisely let the clock tick before challenging. The Eagles won the challenge and scored two plays later on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Owen Schmitt.
The drive: The Texans put together a 13-play, 86-yard scoring drive in the third quarter to take a 24-20 lead. But after a ridiculous squib kick by Neil Rackers, the Eagles had good field position at their 40-yard line. (Were the Texans scared of Jorrick Calvin?) Vick quickly hit DeSean Jackson on a gorgeous 33-yard pass that set up the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Jackson finished with three catches for 84 yards, and something tells me he won't get chewed out by Reid following this performance. He and Vick connected on the Eagles' first play from scrimmage, setting the tone for the offense. Philadelphia scored on its first three possessions and it was 2-of-4 in the red zone in the first half, a big improvement over the past two weeks.
Laws makes a nice grab: Texans quarterback Matt Schaub tried to dump the ball to Arian Foster late in the first half, but Eagles defensive tackle Trevor Laws reached up and snagged the ball for an impressive interception deep in Houston territory. The Eagles settled for a field goal and a 20-10 halftime lead. It was the first takeaway of Laws' NFL career.
Allen was exhumed from the goal line: The Eagles did a fairly nice job on Texans running back Arian Foster, but he ran over rookie Nate Allen on a touchdown reception in the third quarter that trimmed the Eagles' lead to 20-17. It looked like something Herschel Walker would've done to a defensive back (Bill Bates, anyone?) when he was at Georgia, and Allen had to be a bit embarrassed.
What's next: The Eagles will get an extended break before heading to Dallas for a Sunday night game. I'm sure Reid will give the Eagles Friday through Sunday off . That should give them a chance to finish strongly. There's a decent chance the Eagles and Giants will be 9-4 when they play in two weeks, setting up a great Dec. 19 matchup at New Meadowlands Stadium.