Australian NFL giant Jordan Mailata has been roasted by pundits for arguably the most difficult night he’s experienced in his career to date.
The fourth year player has established himself as a key cog in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line, where it is his job to protect the quarterback from on-rushing defenders.
Earlier this season Mailata flattened an opponent like a pancake with a block that became a viral video but he was unable to replicate that kind of form in Friday’s (AEDT) match against the Houston Texans, giving up two sacks in quick succession.
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For the uninitiated, a ‘sack’ is when the quarterback is tackled while he has hold of the ball, causing his team to lose ground.
Mailata, a former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior, gets paid millions of dollars to stop that from happening, but he was caught short by the Texans’ Jerry Hughes, who had a field day.
Fortunately for Mailata, his mistakes did not cost the undefeated Eagles victory, with Philadelphia weathering the storm to win 29-17 that gave them a conference leading 8-0 record for the season.
Yet the Aussie copped plenty of heat, with Twitter lighting up with criticism of his efforts.
Despite coping plenty of heat from the Texans’ defense, Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles overcame a slow start to get the win.
Hurts lost a fumble in a forgettable first half and the game was tied at halftime.
But CJ Gardner-Johnson grabbed his NFL-best and career-high fifth interception before Hurts threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to AJ Brown to give the Eagles the lead in the third quarter.
Houston (1-6-1) added a field goal after that but another scoring toss by Hurts and his two-point conversion run extended the lead to 29-17 early in the fourth.
The Texans were driving late in the fourth when Davis Mills was intercepted again, this time by James Bradberry and the Eagles ran out the clock to secure the victory.
At the same time the Houston Astros were in Philadelphia playing the Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series, Hurts played his first career game at NRG Stadium. Hurts, who was born in Houston and grew up about 25 miles from the stadium, continued his solid play in his homecoming to win his 11th straight regular-season game, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.
Mills threw for 154 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, playing without his top two receivers. Brandin Cooks sat out after missing practice all week following trade rumors that never materialized, and Nico Collins missed the game with a groin injury.
Houston rookie Dameon Pierce ran for a career-high 139 yards to bounce back from a tough game last week, when he gained just 35 yards on 15 carries.
Gardner-Johnson got an interception for a fourth straight game when he picked off Mills with about eight-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter and returned it 25 yards.
The Eagles cashed in on the turnover two plays later when Hurts found Brown for the score to make it 21-14 with about 8 minutes left in the third.
Houston cut the lead to 21-17 on a 30-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn late in the third.
Hurts found Dallas Goedert for a four-yard TD pass on the next drive and Hurts padded the lead with his two-point conversion run.
The Texans took an early lead when rookie Teagan Quitoriano, who was making his NFL debut, grabbed his first career reception for a two-yard touchdown on the first series. Quitoriano is a fifth-round pick who missed all season with a knee injury.
That score was set up by a 34-yard reception by Phillip Dorsett two plays earlier.
Philadelphia tied it at 7-all on a two-yard run by Miles Sanders on fourth down late in the first quarter. Sanders finished with 93 yards rushing.
The Eagles were driving early in the second quarter when Hurts was sacked by Steven Nelson, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Jaleel Johnson at the Houston 35.
Houston couldn’t move the ball and had to punt. Philadelphia then put together a 10-play, 79-yard drive capped by a 4-yard TD run by Kenneth Gainwell to take a 14-7 lead.
The Texans tied it less than a minute before halftime when Mills connected with Chris Moore on a 13-yard touchdown pass. The play was first ruled in complete, but it was reviewed, and the call was overturned.
Philadelphia attempted a 54-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, but it sailed wide right.
– additional reporting by AP
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