60 yards on six plays in 2:46, and the tides had turned. Then the Eagles defense finally forced a punt, holding the Texans to one first down and 14 yards before giving the ball back to the offense with a three point lead and 10:10 left to play. It was the perfect test for the Eagles, one they’ve historically struggled with under Andy Reid. The Birds had a small lead late in the game with an all-important chance to put foot to throat and go for the kill.
Enter LeSean McCoy. The Eagles back ran for three yards on first down, then busted a screen play for 40 yards all the way down to the Texans’ 29-yardline.
“Mike got it to me and the line got some good blocks,” McCoy said. “I saw some defenders coming. I made one guy miss and Maclin made a good block.”
Philadelphia was primed for the knockout blow, but penalties threatened to keep the outcome in jeopardy. A false start on Brent Celek, who would redeem himself moments later, was followed up by a holding call on King Dunlap. An incomplete pass left the Eagles facing third-and-19 from the Texans’ 24-yardline.
Vick dropped back and had great protection as he fired a strike to Celek on a 15-yard out pattern with a step on his defender. Celek turned the ball upfield and plowed through a hit, extending the ball past the 5-yardline. He was ruled short, but an Andy Reid challenge overturned the call.
“I wanted to help my team out, any way I could,” Celek said, before referencing an earlier drop. “Anytime that you make a mistake in the game, you want to make that up somehow. And the only way I could do that was with a play in the future.”
On the second play after Celek’s big reception, Vick hit Owen Schmitt for a 5-yard score to put the game out of reach at 34-24.
Philadelphia’s defense forced a turnover on downs, then Nate Allen recorded a sack-and-fumble on the following Texans’ series, which Darryl Tapp recovered to effectively put the game away.
After seeing a 17-3 lead turn into a 24-20 deficit during the second and third quarters, the Eagles could have gone quietly. Instead, Philadelphia rallied for 14 unanswered points of its own to notch a 34-24 win. With the comeback, the Eagles turned last week’s bitter loss full of “what if’s” into a late-season, momentum building victory.
What it Means
With the win, the Eagles improve to 8-4, a half game ahead of the New York Giants for the NFC East lead. New York hosts Washington Sunday, and the two teams square off on December 19th at the New Meadowlands. Philadelphia continues to control its own playoff destiny, and will get clinch with wins in at least three of the last four games, as long as the loss doesn’t come to the Giants.
Eagles right tackle Winston Justice left the game with a sprained MCL and will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
Max Jean-Gilles started over Nick Cole at right guard to allow Cole to rest his knee, according to Reid.
Asante Samuel was out with a knee sprain, but came close to playing according to Reid. “He wanted to go, but his lateral mobility wasn’t good enough, so we held him out,” Reid said.
David Akers moved ahead of Brian Dawkins for the most games played in an Eagles uniform with 184.
Philadelphia is 4-0 in prime time in 2010 and 5-1 on Thursday nights all-time. Philadelphia has won 9 of 11 prime time games.
The Eagles have come from behind in three straight home games against Indianapolis, New York and Houston.
Philadelphia leads the league with 42 opening-drive points and scored a touchdown on their first drive for the sixth time this year. They’ve won all six games and are 14-1 over the last two years when scoring a touchdown on their first drive.
Andy Reid is 33-15 all time in December.
The Eagles are the only team in the NFL with two receivers over 750 yards in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.
Rookie safety Nate Allen is the only player in the NFL with three interceptions and two sacks this year. Allen also forced a fumble tonight.