Eagles Activate Wallace, Promote Hawkins
Nick Foles Named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Eagles Evaluation: St. Nick's Christmas Miracle Win Against The Texans

By Gia Lanci, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles play a must-win game against the Houston Texans. It is a big game for both teams to prove their place. The Texans were playing to secure first place in their division and to have a chance at a bye week the first week of playoffs. The Eagles were fighting for their own spot in the playoffs. The Eagles are depending on Nick Foles to come in and save them again, but everyone must step up to get the win against a tough team that they are pretty evenly matched up to.

Below are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Defense)

  • DeAndre Carter returned the ball for the Texans, and he put them on the 34-yard line. Nathan Gerry got the stop on the former Eagle, Carter. However, he still put them in a good position.
  • The first play they attempted was a run up the middle that only gained three yards because the front line did not let him through.
  • A pass was attempted but overthrown. There was good coverage by Maddox, who did not allow the pass to be completed.
  • Deshaun Watson was scrambling in the pocket because he took too long, and Chris Long was about to hit him. He threw the ball away. This is the kind of pressure that needs to be put on Watson the entire game. It was a short pass that was to a receiver who had Bradham covering him well. Bradham held him to force the three and out.

Drive Two (Offense)

  • Darren Sproles returned the ball for only 11 yards, putting the Eagles on the 23-yard line.
  • Foles threw a pass quickly, but it was too quick and not executed well enough. It was intended for Ertz. They are going to try and get the ball out quickly because of the stellar defensive players on Houston’s line, but Foles needs to ensure its accurate.
  • A pass was thrown to Ertz right into the first down marker. It was a great catch by Ertz because he really laid out for it.
  • Adams was able to gain just a few yards during two runs. On the second one, he was able to knife himself in for the first down.
  • Smallwood had some really great blocking in front of him but got hit hard and only gained three yards.
  • Ertz caught a pass he was well-covered on. It was a pretty dangerous pass by Foles. He did catch it, but it could’ve gone badly.
  • A huge pass was thrown intended for Nelson Agholor in the end zone. It was an accurate pass by Foles, but Agholor just could not keep it in his hands. He was well covered but still in front of the ball, so he should have caught it.
  • On third down, a pass was thrown to Golden Tate, but he was unable to turn around and gain more yardage. They went for it on fourth down. Great call by Doug to have taken a chance.
  • They threw a short pass to Sproles, and he caught it for the first down. He was one-on-one with a defender and beat him out to run into the endzone. He was covered on the initial catch, but the defender had a missed tackle. When he was one-on-one, he spun out of the tackle into the endzone.

Drive Three (Defense)

  • After a touchback, they tried to run right up the middle and the defensive line shut him down instantly.
  • A pass was thrown to DeAndre Carter, who gained 13 yards. Bradham went to put the pressure on Watson but could not get there quick enough. Malcolm Jenkins got the tackle on Carter in the secondary.
  • A nine-yard reception was thrown to Hopkins. Then another first down pass went to Hopkins. Hopkins cut to the outside because he saw that Watson was struggling, so he passed to Hopkins, who beat out Maddox. Maddox has to stay with him since he is dangerous. Maddox has been improving week-to-week and I think he can handle it.
  • Watson tried to pass the ball but could not find anyone open. The coverage by the Eagles secondary was very good, so he ran the ball and got sacked by a conjoined effort from Deiondre' Hall and Avonte Maddox.
  • Watson ran the ball again and had a wide-open field where he made the first down. Malcolm Jenkins pushed him out of bounds.
  • The ball was carried to the left end, and Douglas pushed the runner back for a loss of three yards. He then got more action when he got the tackle in the secondary on Thomas. He has really stepped up and looks like a decent defender.

Second Quarter

Drive Three (Continued)

  • A pass was well overthrown to the endzone because Watson got hit. This forced the field-goal attempt. The field-goal was made.

Drive Four (Offense)

  • The ball was returned by Boston Scott, who put the Eagles at their 29-yard line.
  • Sproles was handed the ball and broke a bunch of tackles. but there was an illegal formation by the Eagles that pushed them back. This is such a silly mistake to make for a professional football team, especially in a game when they need to make minimal mistakes.
  • A pass was thrown over the head Ertz. It was a very quick release. I know Foles is trying to get rid of it quickly because of the defense’s sack record, but it is more important to throw a good pass then to get it out too quickly. Also, Ertz is looking to beat the record for most received passes by a tight end, so it looks like they are targeting him. They should be more concerned about winning the game rather than focusing on Ertz.
  • Sproles tried to carry the ball up the middle but could not get the job done. They need to try some plays where he runs on the outside.
  • On third down, the offense had 15 yards to go for the first down. A pass was attempted, intended for Jeffrey. It was caught. but it was only for 11 yards. This forced the punt.

Drive Five (Defense)

  • They attempted a run up the middle and, once again, were shut down by the front line immediately.
  • On third down, a pass was thrown for nine yards, but Bradham and Douglas got the tackle on the receiver. They were going to go for it on fourth down but there was a penalty for delay of game that pushed the Texans back even further. This forced the punt.

Drive Six (Offense)

  • There was a penalty on the punt for holding by the Eagles. It gave them poor starting position at their 10-yard line.
  • Sproles ran the ball and gained four yards up the middle. Nick Foles was sacked after he attempted to throw the ball. Clowney ran right through the tight end Rodgers and hit Foles. Rodgers could not contain his man. The big hit took Foles by surprise and he fumbled the ball. It was recovered by Clowney.

Drive Seven (Defense)

  • After the turnover, the Texans started at Philadelphia’s five-yard line. Deshaun Watson faked the handoff to the runner and ran a QB sneak play into the endzone. Tre Sullivan read the play from the end zone and tried to run up and get the tackle on Watson but missed the tackle. Deshaun Watson ran in, untouched. The offensive line pushed the defense to the right to create a hole for him.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • After a touchback, a play-action pass was made by Foles. It was overthrown, again. There was a holding call on the defense that gave the Eagles an automatic first down.
  • Josh Adams ran up the middle right into Clowney, who got the stop. He went right around Ertz’s block to tackle Adams. Ertz needed to follow through with the block.
  • A huge hole was made for Sproles because of the shift to one side of the field by the offensive line. He was able to run to the other side. He waited for his blocks before he ran.
  • A pass was thrown to right in front of Sproles’ hands which allowed him to keep running for 31 yards. Perfectly placed ball by Foles that allowed Sproles to gain some great yardage.
  • A 15-yard pass was thrown to Ertz, but he was hit right away and could not gain any more yardage.
  • Foles quickly threw the ball to Agholor right before the first down marker. He may have released too early. If he just waited a second more, Agholor could’ve been a little closer or maybe in for the first down.
  • Josh Adams ran the ball but lost two yards because J.J. Watt was right there and ready for the play.
  • A pass was thrown to Dallas Goedert, who got the first down but lost his balance and slipped. It should’ve been a touchdown, but stuff like that happens.
  • Nick Foles then threw three incomplete passes in the red zone. Two passes went to Sproles, but Foles just could not connectwith him. The other incompletion was intended for Ertz, where he overthrew him in the endzone. J.J. Watt hit Foles when Foles threw it out. There was a roughing the passer call that pushed the Eagles up.
  • Josh Adams carried the ball and was untouched into the endzone. He made it look easy, but, of course, there was a penalty on Vaitai for holding that nullified the touchdown by Adams. Then there was a delay of game penalty on the Eagles that pushed them back even further. Little mistakes like this are unacceptable in any game but especially in this game situation.
  • A short pass was thrown to Ertz for six yards that kept them moving forward. They just needed a positive yardage play there to help them out. Then another pass to Ertz for nine yards.
  • They went for it on fourth down with one yard to go. A pass was thrown to Zach Ertz for a touchdown. Ertz was able to run a route and beat out the defender to get open. It was a great play by both players.
  • They tried for a two-point conversion. When the ball was snapped, Clowney went right for Foles and grabbed his helmet and pulled him down by his facemask. It was a distinct roughing the passer call, but there was no flag on the play. Nick Foles should have had the chance to throw that ball. Nick Foles went to argue with the referee after the play with no call. That is how you know that it was really an awful call. Not to mention Nick Foles could’ve gotten hurt.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • The ball was returned for 19 yards. He was stopped by LaRoy Reynolds.
  • Watson had so much time to throw the ball, and threw a completed 15-yard pass. He should absolutely not have had near that much time to throw the ball; the defense needs to get pressure on him quicker.
  • The ball was carried up the middle but halted by Cox and Bennett. Stopping the play like that is what the front line is good at, and they need to continue to do that.
  • The runner carried the ball to the left and Sullivan got the tackle but got a penalty for lowering his head. That gave the Texans 15 extra yards. Then, another penalty on the Eagles was called for roughing the passer. If that was a roughing the passer call, the call on Nick Foles is even more ridiculous. This put the Texans on Philadelphia’s 17-yard line.
  • An easy pass was thrown to Hopkins, who then ran out of bounds. Someone should’ve been there to prevent the catch.
  • Deshaun Watson was reading the field and saw that there were no open receivers, so he ran right around the pile and into the endzone. There should’ve been a spy on him because he is so mobile. This was his second rushing touchdown of the game. The defense should not have allowed these to happen.

Drive 10 (Offense)

  • After a touchback, a pass was thrown to Jordan Matthews. They do not use Matthews enough in the offense. He is only in a few times a game. He usually makes a play. They should try to get him some more action.
  • A short pass was thrown to Smallwood that gained a good seven yards. Right now, they need to take things slow and steady to get down field and try to make something out of it.
  • A nice pass was thrown by Foles to Agholor for 17 yards. It was greatly executed by them both. However, there was a holding penalty on Vaitai that pushed them back 10 yards.
  • With 13 yards to go, a pass was thrown to Smallwood. Foles had to try and get rid of it quickly because Clowney was coming to hit Foles, and he did. Foles got it away, though.
  • They were trying to get downfield, but they were struggling. Foles threw a few short complete passes but nothing that moved them towards the end zone tremendously. With only 10 seconds left on the clock, a lateral pass was thrown to Zach Ertz. They tried to get him to run down field but he could not because his lead blocker was Sproles. It was a really bad play call for their last play of the first half. It was to a player who is not that great with gaining yardage after the catch and a running back as the lead blocker.

Third Quarter

Drive 11 (Offense)

  • Their starting position was at the 26-yard line. Ertz received the ball and he beat the record for most received passes by a tight end. After the catch, he fumbled the ball, but, luckily, it was recovered by Dallas Goedert.
  • Foles had a lot of time to throw the ball, and started to scramble because of the pressure coming from Clowney. The pass was intended for Adams, but it was incomplete because it was inaccurate.
  • Sproles carried the ball and was able to get just to the first down marker but did not get it because he turned before he got there. There were defenders there. It was a good cut by Sproles, however he needed to get the first down.
  • A pass was thrown to Goedert, who was not past the first-down marker.
  • Sproles was in the backfield when they went for it on fourth down, but they ran a QB sneak. Foles was pushed in to get the first down.
  • Foles intended to throw the ball to Goedert, but he hesitated on the throw and threw it behind Goedert. It was intercepted by a McKinney.

Drive 12 (Defense)

  • A pass was thrown as Timmy Jernigan was coming onto Watson, but he was able to get it away to his wide-open receiver.
  • They attempted another run up the middle but were shut down instantly.
  • A pass was thrown, and the receiver ran the ball a few yards, but Douglas wrapped up and got a great tackle on the play. This forced the Texans to punt the ball. It was good that the defense got a three and out after the mistake made by Foles.

Drive 13 (Offense)

  • After a touchback, a perfectly placed ball was thrown to Jeffrey. He got hit but shook it off and ran to the outside for 52 yards. Ertz helped to block for him, as well. Great play by Jeffrey.
  • Sproles carried the ball and gained eight yards at Houston’s 36-yard line. He carried the ball again and had no gain.
  • A short pass was thrown to Matthews, who got hit initially but shrugged it off and gained a few yards. He should’ve gained more.
  • On third down, Sproles was looking for a hole, but there was only a congestion of defenders. He tried to run through them but got only a bit past the line of scrimmage. This forced the 47-yard field goal attempt, that was made by Jake Elliott.

Drive 14 (Defense)

  • The kick was very nice by Elliott to get the ball inside the one-yard line, but Carter ran the ball out 29 yards. He should have been stopped since there were a few missed tackles.
  • Jordan Hicks got a good stop that only allowed the receiver to get three yards. The next play was a false start. That pushed them back.
  • Watson had so much time to throw the ball. He had defenders like Jordan Hicks coming, but they could not get there quick enough. Bradham missed the tackle on him, and Watson ran the ball for a first down. Watson ran the ball again. He is the only run game they have. He got another first down.
  • He then attempted to pass the ball but overthrew out of bounds. This forced the punt.

Drive 15 (Offense)

  • On the first play of the drive, Foles took a huge chance with a big pass for 83 yards down field to Agholor. It was right in his hands, and he beat out the defender and ran right into the endzone. He had a celebration of a trust fall into the endzone. The extra point was made, which gave the Eagles the lead.

Drive 16 (Defense)

  • Carter returned the ball for 26 yards. He had some decent returns which put the Texans in good starting position.
  • Watson started to scramble, and Sullivan came up from the secondary and got a good tackle on him. This did not allow him to gain too many yards. They finally put a spy on Watson, and it worked.
  • Watson then had three complete passes that totaled of 38 yards. Each pass was into the secondary and the Birds were unable to stop them.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 16 (Continued)

  • A pass was thrown to Carter but was quickly stopped by Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham. This drive consisted of Watson throwing all over the defense into the secondary. They need to step up and prevent him from making these passes into the secondary.
  • A pass was thrown to the receiver, but it was made incomplete by Jordan Hicks. Jordan Hicks is very good at making plays and disrupting offensive plays.
  • Chris Long came right up and sacked Watson. It was a loss of 10 yards. He hit Watson so hard that he fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Fletcher Cox. It was a great team play. Chris Long made a play, and then the quarterback’s mistake was taken advantage of by the defense.

Drive 17 (Offense)

  • A delay of game penalty was caused by miscommunication. This has happened too many times in this game.
  • A pass was thrown to Agholor. Foles released the ball quickly and almost wasn’t looking on the throw, but it was just above Agholor’s hands and he reached and caught it.
  • Golden Tate received a pass for only four yards. He was well covered and could not run for any more. He has been denied a lot of these attempts because of good coverage by the defense.
  • Adams carried the ball and made a lot of cuts. It was a fantastic run, and he gained a first down.
  • A pass was thrown to Zach Ertz and he turned around. He shook off the defender, and waited for the block and ran right into the endzone. A great play by Ertz.

Drive 18 (Defense)

  • Brandon Graham put tremendous pressure on the quarterback which made him throw an incomplete pass.
  • A pass was thrown into the secondary but was halted by Jordan Hicks. His presence has brought some good plays and helped out the defense.
  • They had a no huddle play that was quick, and Watson threw an incomplete pass because of it.
  • Hester sacked Watson and forced them back eight yards. It was a great play by Hester, to get to Watson. He looked shaken up after that.
  • A short pass was thrown to Blue, who gained five yards but was halted by Rasul Douglas, and they did not get the first down. This stopped them on downs.

Drive 19 (Offense)

  • Josh Adams attempted a run up the middle, but J.J. Watt was there. He is a great defensive player, so on the run they should try to get away from him.
  • A short pass was thrown to Dallas Goedert, who turned and ran for 24 yards. He is really good at gaining more yards after the catch.
  • Josh Adams ran up the middle and did not have a good hold on the ball. He fumbled. It was his first career fumble. It was recovered by a defender.

Drive 20 (Defense)

  • A pass was thrown to Hopkins. The coverage was really good by Avonte Maddox, who did not let Hopkins catch the ball. He has gotten used to Hopkins, which allowed him to be more comfortable covering him.
  • A completed pass was thrown that moved the Texans up field five yards. Then, LeBlanc got an unnecessary roughness call that pushed them up 15 yards. They have not a lot of time left, and the Eagles cannot make these mistakes that allow the other team to advance.
  • A pass was thrown to Hopkins with coverage by Douglas. He was able to get away from the coverage and make an amazing catch. It was definitely pass interference by Douglas, but the catch was still made.
  • Hopkins was in the middle of the field wide open, just a few yards away from the end zone. He was passed the ball and ran into the endzone untouched. Watson scrambled and should’ve been tackled because he had too much time to throw the ball. Nigel Bradham followed the pass to Hopkins, but got there when it was too late. It was a one score game.

Drive 21 (Offense)

  • Boston Scott returned the ball to the 45-yard line. It was a bad kick, however he had a good run where he broke a ton of tackles.
  • They attempted a run up the middle, but it was rejected by J.J. Watt. Here, they should take their time and try to get at least a field-goal.
  • A short pass was thrown to Agholor but did not get too far.
  • A pass was thrown, intended for Golden Tate, but there was pass interference on Tate that was not called that made him unable to catch it. This forced the punt and the three-and-out.

Drive 22 (Defense)

  • Watson scrambled and ran the ball for 12 yards. I cannot understand why the defense does not have someone going after him every play. He is so mobile it is unacceptable no one is on him.
  • Chris Long ran right to Watson and sacked him. That is what they needed. They need to get to Watson since he is the controller of the offense.
  • A deep pass was thrown for 22 yards that was complete. The coverage was by Rasul Douglas. It was good coverage, however he needed to prevent the pass from happening, not just get the tackle after the catch.
  • They did not huddle and then quickly threw the ball away to Hopkins, but it was incomplete because they were rushing.
  • The running back ran the ball up the middle and was hit by both Nigel Bradham and Malcolm Jenkins, He fumbled the ball. It was recovered by a Texans defender, but it was still a loss of one yard. Good play by the defense.
  • A 35-yard pass was thrown into the end zone. The receiver barely got both of his feet in, but it was well reviewed, and confirmed, that he did. Rasul Douglas was covering him and should’ve hit him so that he was definitely out of bounds. There was something he could’ve done besides just stand there. This allowed them to take a one point lead.

Drive 23 (Offense)

  • Nick Foles started off with an incomplete pass to Ertz. When they get nervous and put under pressure, they resort to throwing to their more reliable players. However, sometimes that is not always the play that they should run. They should’ve handed the ball off to Sproles because he is good at making plays under pressure.
  • Foles threw a deep pass to Jeffrey for 19 yards. Clowney hit Foles really hard, leading with his head, in Foles’ chest. He was down for a while, but got up and missed out on a play. He just got the wind knocked out of him.
  • Sudfeld came in and threw an incomplete pass. Then Nick Foles came back in the next play and threw another incomplete pass.
  • A 20-yard pass was thrown to Ertz, who was well-covered but still was able to catch the ball. He is incredible at catching passes when he is covered.
  • Sproles ran the ball for 16 yards and got tackled by two defenders, but still gained some great yardage.
  • They tried to get as close as possible for Jake Elliott to attempt a field goal. Sproles ran up the middle to try and get a little closer but only gained two yards. The field-goal was attempted by Jake Elliott from 35 yards out. This was a make or break attempt. The field-goal was made that let the Eagles win the game.

Game Notes

  • This was a really great matchup for the Eagles. The defenses were similar and the offenses had some good aspects that were challenging for each defense.
  • The defense had a tough time covering Watson since he is so mobile, but they stepped up when they had to. Chris Long got two sacks on Watson and was sure to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.
  • The defense had good overall coverage and pressure on the offense. There were things that could’ve been done better by the defense, but they still improved.
  • The offense played really well. Nick Foles made some really great plays. He had a lot of accurate passes that were crucial to the win, but there were a ton of incomplete passes and miscommunication of plays. Those are easy fixes.
  • The protection for Foles was great. He was only sacked once by a really good defense that is good at getting to the quarterback.

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