Eagles come back to defeat the Texans, 34-24

Eagles tight end Brent Celek stretches for a key first down in the fourth quarter. Celek was originally ruled short of the marker, but the Eagles challenged the call and it was overturned on review.
Eagles tight end Brent Celek stretches for a key first down in the fourth quarter. Celek was originally ruled short of the marker, but the Eagles challenged the call and it was overturned on review.
Posted: December 03, 2010

If Andy Reid intended to send a message with his locker-room rant after the loss to Chicago on Sunday, his young Eagles team received it loud and clear.

Just four days after they delivered an effort the coach deemed worthy of an outburst, the Eagles responded, overcoming a momentum-shifting third quarter by streaking past the Houston Texans, 34-24, with a dominating fourth quarter Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

"Obviously, he's never been that way before since I've been here," veteran safety Quintin Mikell said of Reid's Chicago tirade. "Sometimes with a young team, you have to do something like that. . . . We're all grown-ups, we're all professionals here, but every now and then it's good to get a kick in the tail."

After a stretch in which they played four games in 17 days, the Eagles earned a 10-day rest before they travel to Dallas for their first meeting with the Cowboys. They'll enjoy this win - their eighth against four losses - after they lethargically lost to the Bears, 31-26, on Sunday.

With four games remaining, the Eagles have maintained at least a tie with the New York Giants atop the NFC East through Week 13, and have kept alive whatever hopes they have beyond just making the playoffs.

The heroes Thursday night were familiar names, Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. The Eagles quarterback rebounded - if you can call it that - after two games in which he was not superhuman. And his feisty tailback was his running mate, scoring two first-half touchdowns and ripping off a long gain on a screen pass in the fourth quarter.

Vick completed 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards and threw two touchdowns and one interception. He also gained 48 yards on the ground and scored the go-ahead-for-good touchdown with 13 minutes, 4 seconds left in the game. Vick was a magician in the pocket and somehow survived hit after hit.

"It's not that bad. They look harder than what they seem," Vick said. "If I take one and lay down there, I took a good one and you know that. I'm a pretty tough guy, I feel, for the most part."

McCoy rushed for just 44 yards, but he caught eight passes for 86 yards as another defense focused on receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. His longest reception was a 40-yard screen that set up the Eagles' final tally.

If the 5-7 Texans owned the third quarter by taking the lead against an Eagles defense that survived without Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, the Eagles notarized the fourth quarter as theirs, rallying from four down.

Against the Bears, they lost momentum after Vick threw an interception just before the half. This time, they overcame a third quarter in which the Texans scored 14 points to take the lead.

"I think they were a little embarrassed last week, and we all were as players and coaches," Reid said. "I think everybody put their mind to it and there was a lot of positive energy down there during those tough times."

First, they retook the lead when Vick plunged 2 yards, and then they expanded it to 10 when Vick hit fullback Owen Schmitt for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:18 to go.

Two plays earlier, tight end Brent Celek caught a third-down pass that was ruled a yard shy of a first down. But Reid pulled out his red hanky - with Eagles fans encouraging him to throw it - and finally won a crucial challenge when the spot was overturned.

Reid was reminded that he's often been on the losing end after challenges.

"I thank you for reminding me of that," he joked.

If Vick spent a good deal of the first half on his back, he spent most of the third quarter on the bench as the Eagles' defense could not get off the field. When the offense finally got the ball, Vick hit Jackson, who had caught only two passes against Chicago, for a 33-yard pass to the Houston 10.

Two plays later, Vick sneaked over for a 27-24 lead with 13:04 remaining.

"The fourth quarter is the key quarter," said Jackson, who finished with three catches for 84 yards.

The Eagles' defense has had worse quarters this season - the fourth-quarter disaster against the Titans comes quickly to mind - but Thursday's third period was a close second.

Houston scored 14 points on two long drives, turning a 20-10 halftime deficit into a 24-20 lead before a stunned stadium. Time of possession is one of those overrated statistics, but in this case, it told the story. The Texans held the ball 12:34 out of 15 minutes on their two possessions and, just as important, kept Vick and the Eagles' offense off the field.

On its first drive of the half, Houston benefited from an offsides penalty by Trevor Laws that turned a third and 8 on the Eagles' 27 into a third and 3. The Texans converted, and two plays later Schaub found Arian Foster underneath and the running back plowed over safety Nate Allen for a 13-yard touchdown.

After the Eagles went three and out, the Texans again strung together a 13-play drive - in which they converted three third downs. The most damaging came on third and 17 from their own 39, when Schaub tossed one up for Johnson. The receiver appeared to push Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who was covering, but there was no flag.

"I know I'm not going to fly two yards in front of him by myself," Patterson said.

The Eagles' defense folded from there, as Houston ran on four of the next five plays, culminating with Foster's 3-yard touchdown burst up the middle.

The Eagles led, 20-10, at the break, but it was another case of what might have been. They opened with two workmanlike, 11-play drives that netted touchdowns in the red zone after the offense had gone 2 for 10 inside the opponent's 20 in the previous two games.

It was the perfect way to start the game, and so was getting Jackson involved from the get-go with a 30-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage.

But the Eagles' red-zone hiccups returned when they failed to reach the end zone on two more possessions inside Houston's 20 before the half and settled for field goals.


Getting the Ball to Jackson

DeSean Jackson thinks he should get the ball more, and his statistics back him up. He has been a big part of most of the Eagles' wins this season, including Thursday night's 34-24 victory over the Texans. Here are his game-by-game statistics.

Opponent            Targeted      Rec/Yds   TD      Rushes/Yds   Rush TD      Touches   Game Result   

Green Bay            11          4/30      0         0/0         0            4         L, 27-20

At Detroit            7         4/135      1         1/5         0            5         W, 35-32

At Jacksonville         8         5/153      1         1/8         0            6         W, 28-3

Washington            7          3/19      0         1/2         0            4         L, 17-12

At San Francisco      3          2/24      0         1/8         0            3         W, 27-24

Atlanta               1          1/34      1         2/44         1            3         W, 31-17

(Left game after the first quarter because of injury)

At Tennessee (Missed game because of injury)                                    L, 37-19

Indianapolis            8         7/109      1         3/20         0          10         W, 26-24

At Washington         3          2/98      1         1/5         0            3         W, 59-28

N.Y. Giants            10          5/50      0         1/3         0            6         W, 27-17

At Chicago            5          2/26      0         1/3         0            3         L, 31-26

Houston               5          3/84      0         1/0         0            4         W, 34-24

Totals                 68       38/762      0       13/98         1          51                  

Of note

League leaders in number of times targeted: Terrell Owens (Cincinnati) 124, Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) and Roddy White (Atlanta) 123, Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) 121.

In the Eagles' four losses, Jackson has caught just nine passes for 75 yards and no touchdowns.


 

Thursday night's game ended too late for this edition. For coverage, go to


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.

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