HOUSTON – It was a first quarter of big plays at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Eagles scored first on a 59-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin, and then cornerback A. J. Bouye intercepted Nick Foles and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown to even the game at 7-7.
After exchanging punts with Houston, the Eagles took possession at their 12-yard line with 11 minutes, 9 seconds to go in the first quarter and hoped to find some rhythm after a three-and-out first series that featured a ferocious Texans pass rush.
Foles converted a third down with an 11-yard completion to Maclin and the Eagles gained a second first down on an illegal contact penalty, but two snaps later the Eagles found themselves in a third-and-3 situation. Foles threw to Darren Sproles for 5 yards and a first down at the 41-yard line.
Then the Eagles went strategic, noticing that Houston starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and James Joseph were out of the game. So the Eagles used a play-action fake to free Maclin down the field. Foles faked a handoff to Sproles and then stepped up in the pocket and delivered a strike to Maclin, working against rookie cornerback Andre Hall. There was no safety help and the pass was right on target for Maclin, who made the catch and reached the end zone to complete the 59-yard touchdown play. The Eagles led 7-0 with 8:30 to go in the first quarter.
It was Maclin's third touchdown catch of 50-plus yards this season. He had a 68-yard touchdown catch against Jacksonville and a 54-yard score in the loss at Arizona.
The lead didn't last long. After the defense held Houston – a drive on which Beau Allen and Brandon Bair shared a sack and Mychal Kendricks had a sack – the Eagles took over on their 20-yard line. Foles again tried to hurt Houston in the air, but on first down Foles was pressured by J.J. Watt, who beat Lane Johnson. Foles' pass on the left side for wide receiver Riley Cooper was short and intercepted by Bouye, who weaved through the Eagles offense for the 51-yard return.
The Eagles got the ball back at their 16-yard line and quickly moved. A run by LeSean McCoy gained 3 yards and then Foles completed two 13-yard passes to Cooper. A 7-yard run by McCoy moved the ball into Houston territory and then Foles completed a 7-yard pass to Josh Huff to reach the Texans 41-yard line.
But Whitney Mercilus sacked Foles for a loss of 11 yards on first down. A screen pass to Jeff Maehl gained 5 yards and on third and 16 Mercilus again came from Foles' blind side and sacked him. This time, Foles was slow to get up and was helped from the field treating his left shoulder area gingerly as the quarter ended.