Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. Texans
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Eagles barely keep their playoff hopes alive. Jake Elliott booted a 35-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles a 32-30 win.
Philadelphia held a 29-16 lead in the fourth quarter before Houston scored 14 unanswered points.
Nick Foles set a franchise record for passing yards in a game with 471 yards through the air and four touchdowns to help the cause. He was knocked out of the game on the final drive when JJ Watt delivered a crushing blow to his chest. Foles went to the sideline for one play before returning to help get the Eagles into Field Goal range. Foles had x-rays of his ribs taken, but said they were fine and he is good to go next week.
Also in this game, Zach Ertz set the single-season record for receptions by a Tight End. He passed Jason Witten to break the record.
The Eagles will need to win next Sunday in Washington and get some help to punch their ticket for the postseason.
Here's the latest edition of Grayson's Grades:
Doug Pederson - Pederson made some aggressive calls in this game. The Eagles were four-for-four on fourth down with two touchdowns. After a balanced attack last week, Pederson went back to a pass heavy offense. The Texans were a little thin at Defensive Back and the Eagles looked to take advantage of that as well as some matchups with multiple Tight End formations. The Eagles ran 73 plays with 50 of them going through the air. I questioned the decision to go for two early in the game after the Texans missed a PAT. The play might have worked, but Foles had his face mask grabbed with no penalty called so the conversion attempt failed. Pederson once again saw his team hold a two possession lead in the fourth quarter and nearly blow it. The team needs to learn how to protect a lead and a lot of that can be done with better play-calling to keep your offense on the field and avoid putting pressure on the defense.
Nick Foles - Foles did a good job running the offense once again. He completed seven of nine passes for 68 yards on the opening drive that ended with a 37 yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles. Foles did miss a few throws high to Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. However, he got back into a rhythm later in the first half and led the team on a 14-play 75-yard drive that culminated with a one-yard touchdown pass to Ertz. Foles had an opportunity in the third quarter to step up in the pocket and delivered a perfect pass to Nelson Agholor. He took it the rest of the way for an 83-yard touchdown. Foles did have a couple of miscues. He fumbled on a sack that gave the ball to the Texans on the Philadelphia 5-yard line. DeShaun Watson ran it in on the very next play to give the Texans a lead. On the opening drive of the second half, Foles threw a ball behind Ertz that was picked off giving the Texans the ball on the Philadelphia 46. Foles set a franchise record with 471 yards passing. He completed 35 of 49 passes for 471 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
Nelson Agholor - Agholor got the chance to run a deep route in one-on-one coverage and received a perfect pass from Foles. He took it the distance for an 83-yard touchdown reception. It gave the Eagles a 23-16 lead in the third quarter. Ultimately Agholor went over the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time in over a year. Agholor caught five passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in the victory.
Alshon Jeffery - Jeffery was coming off a monster performance in Los Angeles a week ago. He followed that up with a solid performance against the Texans. Jeffery's biggest reception came on the first play of a drive in the third quarter when he caught a pass over the middle, kept his feet after a hit by a defender and ultimately went 52 yards for a huge gain. That drive ended with a Jake Elliott Field Goal. Jeffery caught three passes for 82 yards in the win.
Zach Ertz - Ertz set an NFL single-season record for receptions by a Tight End and did it in front of the home crowd. He played a big role on the opening drive catching four passes for 19 yards. Several of those receptions were on third down and helped move the chains. Ertz finished the first half with nine receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. He broke the record on the first play of the second half and added to it as the game progressed. Ertz finished with 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He said after the win that the credit for his record is shared between himself and other players who helped him along the way including former Eagles Tight End Brent Celek and former Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten whose record he broke.
Darren Sproles - Sproles was a big part of the offensive attack in this game. He made his impact felt early when he got into open space by catching a short pass on fourth-and-two. It was one-on-one between him and a defender as he approached the goal line and Sproles won that battle getting into the endzone for the touchdown from 37 yards away. Later in the game he used his speed to get ahead of a Linebacker on a wheel route and tack on a huge gain of 31 yards. Sproles also had some nice rushing attempts and finished the game with more than 100 yards of total offense. He caught three passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. He added nine carries for 32 yards.
Chris Long - Long had arguably his best game of the season. He forced a fumble when he sacked DeShaun Watson early in the fourth quarter. The fumble was recovered by Fletcher Cox. Long had even more opportunities at sacks in this game, but DeShaun Watson proved to be very difficult to bring down and somehow evaded Long and other Eagles at times. Long led the team in sacks and quarterback hits. He finished with two tackles, two sacks, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hits as well as a forced fumble.
Lane Johnson - Johnson said after the game that he took it personally that he was left off the list of Pro Bowl players this year. He said he couldn't sleep the night after those announcement were made and went to the facility to prepare for taking on Texans Defensive End JJ Watt. Johnson made a statement by holding Watt in check during this game and took pride in the fact that he did not need help by other linemen or running backs to do so. Johnson said he will continue to carry that chip on his shoulder into next week's game with the Washington Redskins when he lines up opposite Ryan Kerrigan.
Jake Elliott - Elliott missed an extra point that ultimately made a big difference in the game. The Eagles trailed the Texans by that one point late in the game 30-29. He got an opportunity for redemption and made an enormously pressured kick to give the Eagles the victory with no time remaining on the clock. Elliott lined up for the 35-yard field goal attempt knowing that if he missed, the Eagles would be eliminated from the postseason. He put it through the uprights and the Eagles got the win. Elliott also made a 47-yard Field Goal in the third quarter.
Fletcher Cox - Cox did a great job to ensure he recovered a fumble that was near the sideline after Chris Long sacked Watson. Cox could have gotten greedy and tried to scoop it up and add yardage. The veteran made the smart play and secured possession. Cox did not make much of an appearance on the stat sheet, but his presence was felt and he certainly helped contribute to big plays by his teammates. Cox was getting double-teamed occasionally but still found a way to help collapse the pocket. He finished with one tackle and one quarterback hit.
Rasul Douglas - Douglas was the leading tackler on the team for the second week in a row. He played a pretty good game; however, he was tasked with covering Vyncint Smith late in the 4th quarter and gave up a contested reception in the back of the endzone for the go-ahead lead. Other than that, Douglas did another nice job of making some one-on-one tackles. He finished with nine tackles including one tackle for a loss.
Avonte Maddox - Maddox at times had to keep DeAndre Hopkins in check. He did a pretty good job. Hopkins had a few catches, but all of those were for relatively short gains. His longest reception of the first half went for 18 yards. Maddox had an opportunity at an interception but as he was diving the ball hit him in the hands and bounced out for an incompletion. Maddox did manage to get credit for half of a sack. He finished with four tackles, a pass successfully defended and a quarterback hit.
Josh Adams - Adams struggled to find some running room in this game. The Texans attacked him pretty well. At times, he was patiently trying to wait for holes to open and got tackled before he could try and bust through one of those holes. He did get into the endzone Adams carried the ball 11 times for 21 yards. His best carry went for just six yards.
Jordan Hicks - Hicks saw his first action after missing the last three games. He deflected a pass and forced it to fall incomplete in the second quarter. It led to a third and ten and eventually a punt by the Texans. Hicks also helped keep the Texans rushing attack in check. He finished with five tackles and a pass successfully defended.