HOUSTON --Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is in a zone. In a huge, catch-everything-against-anybody zone. He finished the first half of the regular season in impressive fashion on Sunday with six catches, 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 31-21 win over Houston.
Maclin beat the Texans short, deep and in the red zone. He was targeted seven times as the Texans chased him to no avail.
"I'm just going out there and making the most of my opportunities," said Maclin, who has 45 receptions, 790 yards and eight scores in eight games. "They're doing a good job dialing it up for me."
Maclin took advantage of injuries that knocked Houston cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph out of the game. He opened the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Nick Foles as those two starting cornerbacks left the game, and then Maclin came back on the first snap from scrimmage when backup quarterback Mark Sanchez entered the game and hauled in a 52-yard pass to set up a touchdown.
Finally, Maclin made a diving catch as he came back to catch a Sanchez pass to score on an 8-yard play and give the Eagles a 31-21 advantage with 3:50 to go in the game. The play capped a beauty of a 15-play, 80-yard drive for the Eagles which was the longest in terms of duration (8:01) on the season.
The Eagles felt going into the game that they could exploit Houston's defense. Maclin said the Texans' safeties "got a little nosy" in their attempts to stop the running game.
And it cost them down the field.
"We thought that was one area that we could get them," said Maclin. "We hit them a couple of times."
Maclin has had a brilliant season. He's surpassed the 150-yard receiving mark three times in the first half of the season and shows no signs of slowing down, no matter who plays quarterback.
"I feel good and I wanted to come back (after missing the 2013 season with an injury) and try to be better than I was," said Maclin. "This year, I've had my number called quite a bit. All I can do is be reliable for my team."
Sanchez joked that Maclin "picked a good time to sign a one-year contract," and no doubt Maclin is making big plays every week. Defenses simply have had no success covering him any number of ways.
He has three touchdowns of 50-plus yards this season. Maclin now has back-to-back games with 150-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns (he had 12 catches, 187 yards and two scores in Arizona), becoming the first player in the NFL since 2009 (Miles Austin, Dallas) to accomplish that feat.
"Those are what receivers live for," he said. "Even growing up as a kid, the first thing you want to do is go deep. You have to do it within the offense and you have to do it at the right time. I think we hit them at the right time."
The Eagles are in Houston to take on the Texans at NRG Stadium. Philadelphia is looking to bounce back after last week's loss in Arizona ...