In a display of how far the Texans have come since last season, and also an indication of how much further they need to go,
fell 24-10 to the Philadelphia Eagles in their 2006 regular season home opener Sunday in front of a sellout crowd at Reliant Stadium.
David Carr played well, throwing for 208 yards to go along with a touchdown and an interception. Andre Johnson racked-up 101 of those yards thanks to six catches and Eric Moulds scored his first touchdown as a Texan, ending his day with six catches for 68 yards.
However, while the passing game came out strong against a good Eagles defense, the running game had no such luck, amassing just 70 yards on the ground. Wali Lundy, in his NFL debut, found very little running room, gaining just 32 yards on 11 carries to lead Houston's rushing attack.
"We knew this team would be difficult to run against," Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak said. "They did some things defensively to take our running backs out of the game, and when they do that you know you're going to have to make some plays in the pocket."
On the other side of the ball, another Texans' rookie, DeMeco Ryans, shined in his first pro start. Ryans collected a game-high13 tackles in the loss Sunday, cementing himself as the answer at middle linebacker for
. Ryans and Lundy were just two of
"It looked to me like he played exceptional out there," Kubiak said of his rookie linebacker. "He's making tackles, plays his heart out, and did that until the end of the game. We'll evaluate him like we do everybody else, but I know we have a fine young player on our hands there."
For the Eagles, they appear to be headed back to the playoffs after missing out on the postseason a year ago for the first time since 1999. Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Donte Stallworth hauled in a game-high 141 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown that tied the score after
had taken an early lead in impressive fashion.
The Texans wasted no time getting on the scoreboard.
began the game with a drive of over six minutes culminating Moulds' 25-yard touchdown grab. Phillip Buchanon returned the opening kickoff 21 yards and David Carr and the offense took it from there.
Faced with a third-and-nine at their own 26, it appeared as though
in a blitz and Carr found tight end Jeb Putzier for 26 yards, moving the ball into Eagles' territory. The drive continued with a fourth down conversion by Carr on a one-yard sneak.
Two plays later Moulds was in the endzone, celebrating his first touchdown as a Texan.
After allowing the Eagles one first down,
's defense answered the bell as well. Dunta Robinson sniffed out a screen to Brian Westbrook and that was followed by a tackle in the backfield Ryans. Lewis Sanders just missed a pick on third down and the Eagles kicked it away, failing to come close to midfield.
couldn't match their success from their opening drive on the ensuing possession. A tipped ball on seond down put the Texans in a third-and-long situation and the Eagles defense sniffed out a run and forced a Chad Stanley punt.
Taking over on their own 31-yard line,
mounted their first substantial drive of the day. A 22-yard reception from the newly-acquired Stallworth put the Eagles in Texans' territory for the first time, but on the following play, Jason Simmons made an acrobatic interception to stymie the Eagle attack.
did little on the next possession, ending the first quarter with a three-and out. It would prove costly as the Eagles hit pay dirt on their next drive. Faced with a third-and-six on the Texans 49, Donovan McNabb found Greg Lewis for a first down to extend the drive that began on the Eagles' 16-yard line.
Doing most of their damage on the ground,
looking in the backfield on a beautiful play action pass. McNabb found a wide-open Stallworth and the Eagles were on the board with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half.
's drive went 84 yards on eight plays and took 3:33 off the game clock.
Two sacks stalled
's next possession after the Texans were able to move the ball close to midfield
after taking over on their own 20-yard line. A 22-yard completion to Andre Johnson
highlighted the Texan drive that resulted in a 31-yard punt by
The Texans defense looked to go three-and-out on the Eagles' next possession, but McNabb was cool under pressure on third-and-seven on his own 28. In the face of a
blitz, McNabb found L.J. Smith, who laid out for an 18-yard reception to extend the Eagles drive.
The Texans used some big plays to move into striking distance on their next drive. On third down, Carr found Moulds for a nine-yard gain to the
35-yard line. A late hit by
's Jeremiah Trotter moved the ball to midfield and Carr found Johnson down the sideline for 44 yards to give the Texans first and goal at the Eagles five-yard line.
A two-yard loss by Wali Lundy and a sack of Carr on second down put the Texans in an unenviable position of third and goal on
's 16-yard line. The Eagles brought heat on third down and Carr wisely threw the ball away giving way to 34-yard field goal by Kris Brown.
a 10-7 lead with a little over a minute remaining in the half.
Armed with all three of their timeouts,
started their last drive of the half at their own 20. A 23-yard completion to Stallworth moved the Eagles within striking distance at midfield. A 10-yard scramble by McNabb and a 37-yard completion to Stallworth gave the Eagles the ball at the
five where the found pay dirt with a five-yard hookup between McNabb and Reggie Brown.
The play gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 14-10 with 11 seconds remaining in the first half. The Eagles drove 80 yards in 52 seconds, taking just five plays to answer
's field goal.
The Eagles stormed out of the locker room and quickly found the endzone again to begin play in the second half, going 75 yards in just seven plays to push their lead to 21-10 with 11 and half minutes remaining in the third quarter. McNabb found Westbrook on a swing pass for their third touchdown, this one coming from 31 yards out.
took over on their own 17-yard line to start their first drive of the second
half. Buoyed by two Philadephia penalties,
The Texans forced
three-and-out on the next drive and got the ball back in good field position at their own 37-yard line. The defensive battle continued from there as the Texans failed to get a first down.
The Eagles began to work the clock on their next possession featuring Westbrook on several running plays and moved the ball 49 yards in 13 plays, eating up nearly six minutes off the clock. The Texans defense stood firm and forced a 42-yard attempt from David Akers, which he made off the right post giving the Eagles a 24-10 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the game.
The Texans teased the scoreboard on their ensuing drive. Starting on their own 23-yard line,
moved the ball deep into Eagles territory, but the drive stalled at the 17 when a Carr pass attempt was batted down on fourth down ending any thoughts of a Texans comeback. The Eagles were able to run the remaining four-plus minutes off the clock and collect their first win of the 2006 season.
The Texans travel to