Sanchez Takes Birds To Top Of Division

Let the QB controversy begin. Sanchez leads the Birds past Houston 31-21.

The Eagles are now on top of the NFC East after surviving yet another grueling game. The Birds are now 4-0 all-time against the Texans, but it comes with a cost, a myriad of injuries.

THE SANCHEZ ERA BEGINS?

I think we all had a feeling this was going to happen eventually. We just didn’t know how it would pan out.

In all honesty, Sanchez did not play bad.

Even with the early exit of Foles, Chip Kelly did not change his game plan. Sanchez went deep for Maclin for a 52 yard pick up on his first play for the Birds. This big play led to a pin-point pass to Jordan Matthews for an 11 yard touchdown, putting Philly on top.

Sanchez started an efficient 5 for 6. That lone pass not like the others was a ball that was off the hands of Josh Huff and into the grasp of a Houston defender for an interception.

Jason Kelce had a very rough game back from injury, and Sanchez did a great job of hiding that. On a myriad of occasions the center snap was too high in the shotgun. The back-up QB was able to coral the poor snaps, and avoid any costly turnovers.

What might be most eye-opening is that Mark Sanchez led the longest drive of the season for the Eagles.

The 8:01 fourth quarter drive locked up the win for the boys in green . The drive started from the Eagles’ 20. Sanchez marched his troops down the field with short passes and runs by the tailbacks. After the gargantuan fourth down conversion in the redzone, Lane Johnson’s false start penalty pushed the Eagles back to the 8 yard line. Marky Mark stayed poised and threw a pass that only his receiver, Jeremy Maclin, could catch for the game clinching touchdown.

Sanchez finished the game with the line of 15/22 passing, 202 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.

Not flashy at all, but no matter what, in proper Philadelphia fashion, we will have a quarterback controversy in the morning.

BIG PLAYS

This game was defined by highlight reel plays. Both teams each had two plays over 50 yards in the first half.

Foles hooked up with Jeremy Maclin for 59 yards and the first score of the game. The bomb occurred immediately after the injuries of both starting Houston cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph. Both of their absences turned out to be huge in the outcome of this game.

On the next Eagles possession, Foles was under extreme pressure and gave the ball the ol’ heave-ho intended for Riley Cooper. Too bad it was into double coverage and A.J. Bouye, in relief of Joseph, picked it off and returned it 51 yards for a Texans TD.

As stated above, Sanchez’s first play went for 52 yards, putting the Birds in the redzone for the first time in the game. It led to a 11 yard connection from Sanchez to Matthews for a 14-7 Philly lead.

Arian Foster took himself out of the game for two plays after hurting his hand. The very first play he came back in the game he caught a ball on a wheel route and took it 56 yards for the game-tying touchdown.

INJURIES

Injuries a plenty in this one. Both teams will be feeling the effects of this game for a while, but three huge play-makers for the Birds might be side-lined for a while.

Nick Foles and his non-throwing shoulder injury on the last play of the first quarter deemed him questionable to return to the game. Foles was sacked by Whitney Mercilus on the play, and was slow to get up. He was taken to the locker room for x-rays. At halftime he was ruled out.

Todd Herremans re-injured his elbow, knocking him out of the game in the third quarter.

DeMeco Ryans was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury.

That was false.

It was actually an achilles tendon injury and now the season looks like it is in jeopardy for the former Texan.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported late in the game that linebacker’s season is finished.

Ryans made a huge interception off of Ryan Fitzpatrick at the Philadelphia 7 yard line before the ground forced a fumble, giving it back to Houston.

WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

The Eagles’ kryptonite this season has been not converting 3rd and shorts, as well as punching it into the endzone during redzone opportunities.

Philly won the battle up front on two fourth down attempts.

In the second quarter with 1:14 remaining at the Houston 26, the offense stayed on the field. The Texans called a timeout to prepare for the play. At first glance it seemed the Eagles were stuffed, but Houston was no match for McCoy’s second effort. Philly scored on a Cody Parkey field goal as time expired in the first half.

The biggest play of the day happened with 4:07 remaining in a 24-21 contest. Rather than call on the field goal unit, Coach Kelly trotted Sanchez and company onto the field for the 4th and 1 at the Houston 4 yard line.

In the singleback formation, the call was to Chris Polk who put the nose of the ball just barely passed that invisible yellow line for the first down.

The gutsy call could have led to destruction, but instead led to victory.


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