The Houston Texans battled hard on Battle Red night but ultimately fell 29-17 to an undefeated Philadelphia Eagles team on Thursday Night Football.
"We knew who we were playing," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "Some people will argue the best team in football right now in the NFL. I thought our guys played hard from start to finish. We didn't always play smart football, and there are some mistakes we have to eliminate, but I like the way they fought."
Dameon Pierce set career highs with 27 carries for 139 yards. Rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano caught a touchdown pass on the opening drive of his NFL debut. Without two of his best receivers in Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins, QB Davis Mills was 8-of-9 for 90 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 147.9 passer rating in the first half. Chris Moore led the team with four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.
"I think all the guys really stepped up and came to play today," Mills said. "Had a really good game plan without those two. Obviously having them out takes a little bit away of what we are capable of, but really confident in the guys that were able to step up. Really the whole room was ready to go out there and play any position. So I felt like we did well. They were getting open."
However, the offense stalled in the second half, scoring just three points and turning the ball over twice. In the end, Mills completed 13-of-22 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"The first and the fourth quarter we haven't played our best ball," Smith said. "But to get that touchdown right away, I thought that was big for us. Even throughout. You take away those turnovers, and I thought we had a game plan that would allow us to win the football game."
Jalen Hurts completed 21-of-27 for 243 yards for two touchdowns. Houston's defense forced one takeaway and four sacks. Steven Nelson came up with a takeaway for the second straight game, recording 1.0 sack, one quarterback hit and one forced fumble. Jerry Hughes finished with 2.0 sacks, bringing total to 7.0 sacks through eight games, and added two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. Jonathan Owens led the team with 10 tackles (seven solo).
"Defensively, you know, I think they were 4 for 4 down in the red zone," Smith said. "Didn't take the ball away enough, but I liked the way our guys fought. Jerry Hughes played the type of game he normally plays. He is going to play hard, and he is a legitimate outside rusher."
The Texans debuted their Battle Red helmets with touchdown drive on their opening series to take a 7-0 lead. After a deep ball to Phillip Dorsett moved the offense 34 yards down to first-and-goal, Mills threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Quitoriano to cap off a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
"It was just a good play call," Quitoriano said. "Davis threw a perfect ball, perfect back-shoulder ball over the top, and I just jumped up and played it at the highest point."
Philadelphia scored 14 unanswered points to take a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter. Miles Sanders scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown on the Eagles first possession of the game to tie the game 7-7. Philadelphia's second possession ended when Steven Nelson intercepted Hurts. However, the Eagles responded with a rushing touchdown by Kenneth Gainwell with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Pierce broke tackles and rushed for a 36-yard gain to get Houston to the Eagles 27-yard line. Three plays later, Mills rolled to his right and found Moore for a 13-yard touchdown with 0:37 left in the second quarter. The Texans and Eagles headed into halftime tied 14-14.
Hurts threw two touchdown passes in the second half, to A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert. A successful two-point conversion after the Goedert score gave the Eagles their first two-score lead, up 29-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Mills threw two interceptions in the second half with passes picked off by C.J. Gardner-Johnson and James Bradberry. With just over two minutes left in the game, Bradberry intercepted Mills' pass, intended for Dorsett, at the Eagles 3-yard line. With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-6-1 and will head to New York to face the Giants on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Browse photos from the Texans, Eagles Week 9 matchup and see the new Battle Red helmet in action.