The Eagles' offensive line knew it would have its hands full with the Texans' front seven. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney have combined to form perhaps the most formidable pass-rush duo the NFL has to offer, and the Eagles' offensive line knew the task at hand.
On Sunday, even though they were shorthanded once Jason Peters went down with a quad injury early in the game, the Eagles' offensive line delivered. And then some.
Nick Foles threw for a franchise-record 471 passing yards in the Eagles' 32-30 victory. The offensive line kept Foles well protected for most of the afternoon, allowing just one sack.
Lane Johnson, snubbed from the Pro Bowl, was a huge reason for the Eagles' success, as he kept Watt silent for most of the day. Watt, a perennial Pro Bowl selection and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, entered the game with 14.5 sacks. On Sunday, Watt was a non-factor.
"It was no different than any other week. He's the best tackle in football," said Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks. "I've said it before and I'll say it again, left tackle, right tackle, he's the best tackle in football."
"They're a great front. They really are," said Jason Kelce. "They're a great defense. So, credit to those guys especially. Our tackles had their hands full all day with the type of ends that they have, and they were lights-out for us."
According to head coach Doug Pederson, Johnson's success on Sunday can be attributed to the work he's put in during the week.
"Lane had a great week of preparation. Got in his mindset, he's awesome," Pederson said. "He's a tremendous right tackle. He's had to block some really, really good defensive ends this season. This was probably the best one he's seen all season and (he) did a nice job. Did a really nice job. It's a credit to him. Well deserved."
The Eagles' offensive line has seen its share of lineup changes this season. Isaac Seumalo replaced Stefen Wisniewski as the starting left guard after four games, and Jason Peters has dealt with injury issues for a good part of the season, forcing Halapoulivaati Vaitai to pitch in on a number of occasions, Sunday included. But along with Brooks, Johnson has anchored down the right side, missing just one game due to injury.
Johnson's not only brought a sense of stability to the line, but he's brought energy to the locker room every week as well.
"Body language is big, especially on the sideline," said Johnson. "People don't like seeing slumped shoulders. They don't like seeing heads down. It's all about energy. That's what we feed off of. All the jokes me and Chris (Long) have done in the past with the (Nick Foles) shrine and stuff, that's all to create energy and to get guys going."
Next week, Johnson and company will once again look to establish dominance up front against a Washington team, that while eliminated from playoff contention, still poses a great threat with its pass rush.
"We know where we stand. It's a one-game season," Johnson said. "We've got our backs against the wall and a sense of urgency. Next week's going to be a tough game for us. ... There is no easy way out."
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.