Instant analysis: Eagles keep playoff hopes alive with statement win over the Texans


The Eagles were able to survive a spectacular Deshaun Watson rally late on to hold off the Houston Texans and secure a victory, keeping their playoff hopes alive with just one regular season game remaining. With the Cowboys and Vikings both winning today, that final week is now a must-win scenario, but there are bigger takeaways to be had.


The character of old St. Nick:
Nick Foles had himself a game on Sunday. Not only did he toss 4 touchdown passes and throw for over 471 yards (which I believe to be a new Eagles record), but he was able to elevate the offense to the plain we saw last year. In the first half alone, eight different receivers touched the ball and whether it was surgically picking apart the defense on the opening drive, or coming back from a huge Jadeveon Clowney hit to push the offense into field goal territory with the entire season on the line, Foles was nothing less than excellent. Sure, there were a few overthrows and a badly thrown interception, but Foles did all he could on Sunday afternoon and absolutely decimated the Texans 26th ranked pass defense. Is there still hope with Nick Foles at the helm? Does he still have the magic touch? I’ll let you be the judge…


Still got it:
How Darren Sproles can just slip back into regular season action after a years worth of injuries and setbacks is one thing, but how he can do so and put up 108 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown, is beyond me. ‘The little engine that could’ was one of the offenses most impactful players in the win over Houston and if the Eagles do indeed make it to the playoffs, his presence in the backfield is going to be invaluable.


A historical season:
He’s done it. Now, with over 111 receptions on the season, Zach Ertz has now recorded the most catches in a single season of any tight end in NFL history. Unfortunately, the one catch that sent him to the record was fumbled, but he made up for that with a 2-TD, 110 yard deconstructing of the Texans. He even recorded some YAC for all those who insist he can’t break tackles, deploying a nasty juke en-route to his second touchdown. Ertz was the ultimate safety blanket today, just has he has been all season. Is Ertz finally going to start getting the respect he deserves? Probably not. But now, he’s headed to Canton…the ultimate shrine of that very word.


Different team, same motive:
Last week, the Eagles sought to remove Todd Gurley from the equation and force Jared Goff to put the game on his shoulders. The result was a Rams offense that fell apart, forcing Goff to through 54 times. This week, that same mentality applied. Alfred Blue totaled just 14 rushing yards, while the team’s quarterback led their rushing total with 49, on top of being asked to pass 40 times. There was a late worry as Watson rallied the team back into contention, but marginalizing the offense helped the secondary isolate DeAndre Hopkins and focus all of their attentions on the traffic coming their way. Schwartz may have finally tied his defense together and found their swagger in the process.


No fold:
In an alternate reality, the Eagles would’ve found a way to lose this game. Maybe a late interception or a fumble, perhaps another missed extra point would prove to be vital somewhere down the line. But not this time. Although the Eagles continue to be their own worst enemy at times, they never deviated from the plan and remained composed in those game-changing moments of adversity. That maturity and composure had previously lacked entirely and cost them dearly, but this performance was so reminiscent of what we saw in the playoffs vs Atlanta last year. The Eagles never looked shaky, never looked vulnerable. In fact, you could argue that outside of that late rally, there wasn’t really a period where they didn’t look in control. The Eagles finally pilot their own destiny once more, but they’ll need Foles and Pederson to drive it to the promised land again.


Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports