EAGLES 32, TEXANS 30

The Watson-Foles show was a treat, but in the end the Texans fell short

Nick Foles is back and so are the Eagles. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

It was not a stretch to say Sunday's game against the Eagles was the most important regular season game in the Houston Texans franchise's history. Win, and they would remain in position to get a top 2 seed and a first-round bye.

Lose, and the AFC South remains in doubt, a tough first-round playoff matchup is assured, and the team has a near-impossible path to the Super Bowl.

The result was and old-fashioned gunfight. Nick Foles, the Super Bowl hero, brought his A game. Deshaun Watson, NCAA champion, rallied his team from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to take a late lead.

In the end, the Texans left too much time on the clock, and Foles led his team down the field for the game winning field goal in a 32-30 Eagles victory.

Watson was outstanding in the loss. With no running game to speak of except for himself, he came up clutch when it mattered. Watson completed 29 of 40 for 339 yards, two touchdowns and carried eight times for 49 yards and two more scores. In the fourth quarter, he pulled off remarkable play after remarkable play to give his team a chance.

Foles was also amazing. He was 35 of 48 for 471 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He took a big hit from Jadeveon Clowney in the fourth quarter, but returned to lead his team to the game-winning field goal.

It was simply two great players firing back and forth.

The win keeps the Eagles faint playoff hopes alive. The loss pretty much ruins the Texans hope at a first round bye and assures they must beat Jacksonville next week to win the AFC South.

The Texans were outplayed all day, but Watson's magical fourth quarter gave them a chance. The defense, however, was unable to stop Foles and the Eagles. Injuries in the secondary did not help, and an inability to cover tight ends (Zach Ertz had 12 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns) ruined Watson's magic. The Texans forced three turnovers, but could not get a stop on the last drive when it mattered.

Watson's brilliance might have proven costly. He scored so quickly, the Eagles had plenty of time left on the clock to march to the game winner.

There were other stars. Ertz was terrific for Philadelphia, as was Nelson Agholor (five catches, 116 yards). Chris Long had two of the Texans four sacks.

For the Texans, DeAndre Hopkins was once again magnificent, with nine catches for 104 yards. Demaryius Thomas had three catches before what appeared to be a season-ending injury. Jadeveon Clowney forced a fumble on a strip sack, but also had several costly penalties.

But this show was all about the quarterbacks.

In truth, there was no shame in losing to the Super Bowl champs in their own building, especially as well as they have played of late. There is a reason teams starting 0-3 rarely make the playoffs let alone get a bye. Those early losses to the Titans with Blaine Gabbert and the Giants when they were playing terrible football will prove just as damaging as this loss, which was not unexpected.

In the end, it came down to Watson and Foles, and whoever got the ball last was going to win.

This one went to Foles. And the Texans now find there is still work to do just to make the playoffs, and their path to the Super Bowl is almost impossible.

But what a show they treated us to on Sunday. Foles and Watson both came up clutch and made huge plays.

Foles got the last shot off. And that was the difference.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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