Once again, a fourth and short in the red zone decided an Eagles game.
But this time, Chris Polk’s forward progress got a critical first down with four minutes left inside the Texans 10-yard line and two plays later, Jeremy Maclin added to his incredible two week explosion catching a touchdown pass to give the Birds a 31-21 victory in Houston Sunday.
The score capped the Eagles’ longest drive during the Chip Kelly era, taking up 8:01 from fourth-quarter game clock.
Maclinhad 158 yards and two touchdowns (a week after setting a career high with 187 yards) and made Mark Sanchez’ transition to the Eagles offense look easy in a win that put the Eagles in first place in the NFC East — after the Cowboys were creamed by the Cardinals.
“That is the reason we resigned Maclin,” Chip Kelly said. “I was really excited before he got injured of how he would fit in on offense. He has made some real clutch passes throughout the year and that’s what we come to expect from him.”
The Eagles offense also overcame three costly turnovers, each leading to Houston points, gaining 484 yards from scrimmage.
LeSean McCoy picked up 117 yards as part of a rushing attack that posted 2013 numbers with 192 yards total on the ground.
On the Eagles second possession, Nick Foles completed several short passes, getting himself into rhythm to complete a 59 yard bomb toMaclin to put the Eagles ahead 7-0 in the first.
A few minutes later Foles scored again but for the Texans. His 10th interception lead to Houston’s first touchdown tying the game at 7-7.
Foles was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, but Sanchez didn’t skip a beat finding Maclin deep early in his first drive as an Eagle, and later posting six points with a touchdown strike to Jordan Matthews. The Eagles led 14-7 at the 10:41 mark with Foles still in the locker room. The starter would not return.
“I thought Mark did a really great job,” Helly said of Sanchez. “He had good command of what we’re doing. Since day one here, you know what type of professional he is. He’s in early, he takes copious notes, he is a real professional.”
With Sanchez under center for his second drive, the interception bug reared its ugly head yet again, with a costly interception.
The Texans turned it into seven points when Arian Foster took a wheel route 56 yards to the house on a pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It was clear as the second quarter progressed that the same issued plagued the Eagles–turnovers and big plays.
A Cody Parkey 45-yard field goal gave the Eagles the 17-14 halftime advantage.
After getting a break on a Texans missed field goal, the Eagles drove down the field with four plays, 70 yards (all runs) and a Chris Polk touchdown to widen the lead to 24-14.
Another Eagles interception (two actually, as DeMecoRyans lost a fumble on an interception in the red zone) led to the Texans cutting the Birds’ lead to just three with a DeAndre Hopkins touchdown catch.
More devastating than that, the Eagles injury list expanded to includeRyans, who was clearly hurt when he coughed up the ball.
“When a warrior gets hurt you pick up his shield and play in honor of him,” Kelly said.
After their long fourth quarter drive got them a double-digit lead, the defense forced a turnover on downs. The Birds ran down the clock to improve their record to 6-2.