Texans vs. Eagles Week 9 Notebook: Fighting Against the NFL’s Elite

HOUSTON — As a significant underdog entering Thursday night’s contest against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, there was a small amount of hope that the Houston Texans could pull off an upset.

The Texans astounded everyone when they scored on the opening drive. Second-year quarterback Davis Mills connected with rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano for a two-yard touchdown to end a 75-yard drive amid their first possession. 

Houston’s first-quarter touchdown indicated that the lackluster performance showcased against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday would not be duplicated at NRG Stadium.

The general public may have been amazed by the Texans’ fight against the best team in the league. But Houston’s effort still resulted in a 29-17 Week 9 loss to the Eagles.

“We knew who we were playing, they are the best team in football right now,” coach Lovie Smith said. “We played hard but the turnovers hurt. There were a lot of good things for us to like. I liked the way our guys fought tonight.”

Jalen Hurts’ happy homecoming

Smith understood the importance of Jalen Hurts returning to his hometown but did not want him to experience a happy homecoming. The Texans made it tough on the Eagles’ rising star quarterback but Hurts prevailed en route to another MVP-caliber performance.

Despite receiving four sacks on the night, Hurts finished the game with 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 77 percent of his pass attempts. The Texans were unsuccessful at preventing Hurts from using his legs to extend plays on the offensive side of the ball, but Smith was pleased by the effort from his front seven.

“I think he has improved more than any other player in the league,” Smith said. “He is mobile and is a big guy to bring down. We did a good job containing him for the most part, especially the front seven.”

Houston’s wide receiver corps was better than expected without Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. 

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Nico Collins and Brandin Cooks have established themselves as Houston’s top receivers through the first seven games.

But without the services of both players, there were questions on how Houston’s wide receiver corps will help move the chains against the Eagles. Led by Phillip Dorsett with 69 yards on three catches, Houston’s wideouts notched 154 yards and a touchdown despite their depleted position group. 

“All of our receivers stepped up tonight,” Mills said. “They were making plays. That was the game plan without those two [Collins and Cooks]. The whole room was ready to step up and make plays.”

Quick Hits:

– Rookie running back Dameon Pierce rushed for over 100 yards for the second time in his career. He finished the game with a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries. 

– Veteran defensive lineman Jerry Hughes led the team in sacks with two on the night. In addition to Hughes, Steven Nelson and Kurt Hinish each recorded a sack against Hurts. 

– Wide receiver Tyron Johnson made his first career catch as a member of the Texans. Johnson caught one pass for eight yards.

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