Sunday, November 3, 2013
Nick Foles bounces back with 7 TD passes
By Phil Sheridan
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes.
OAKLAND -- Nick Foles won't have any trouble finding the "a-ha" moments when he watches this game film.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback produced a bunch of them, including an NFL record-tying seven touchdown passes, in a 49-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders. Foles said he had accomplished that feat before -- "in a video game."
If Chip Kelly was unsure who his quarterback would be when Michael Vick returns from his hamstring injury, Foles made an awfully persuasive case: 22-for-28, 406 yards, a perfect passer rating of 158.3, and zero interceptions.
And of course, the touchdowns. Foles wrote his name in the NFL record book alongside Peyton Manning (who threw seven TDs against the Baltimore Ravens in September), Y.A. Tittle, Joe Kapp, Sid Luckman, George Blanda and the Eagles' own Adrian Burk.
"Whenever I've looked at records my whole life, the greatest thing about it is the guys you do them with," Foles said. "This is something that's special for the Philadelphia Eagles organization. You have to look at the components -- the O-line blocking, guys running great routes, making huge catches. It's special for all our teammates."
It actually took two teams to make Foles' record-tying day possible. The Raiders simply failed to cover McCoy, making his 25-yard catch and run all too easy. Cornerback Mike Jenkins fell down, leaving Jackson all alone for a 46-yard score. Cooper abused rookie D.J. Hayden all afternoon.
But Foles made every throw.
"He put the ball on people," Kelly said. "He was really, really good on third downs. Nick played really, really well."
It was an outstanding performance made all the more remarkable by what preceded it. Foles stepped into the starting lineup three weeks ago after Vick pulled a hamstring. He delivered a three-touchdown performance at Tampa Bay, winning a game and winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
One week later, he delivered the worst performance of his young NFL career in a 17-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. When Foles wasn't overthrowing receivers, he was underthrowing them. When he wasn't doing that, he couldn't find them at all. He completed 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards before being knocked out of the game with a concussion on the last play of the third quarter.
It was mystifying to everyone, from Kelly to Foles himself. He missed last Sunday's loss to the New York Giants as he recovered from the concussion. When he was cleared medically, he studied the game tape, looking for clues to his poor play.
"You have to watch the film of it," Foles said, "and you just see what you could've done differently to be more successful on each play. A lot of times, it's really something you already know, and it's just like an ‘A-ha!' moment, where you're like, ‘Oh, that's all I have to do.'"
It wasn't just Foles, either. The Eagles scored only three points against Dallas. Their only points last week against the Giants came on a special teams play.
So naturally they got two weeks' worth of touchdowns before the end of the third quarter here.
The only other time Nick Foles completed so many touchdown passes was "in a video game."
"We suffered two defeats recently and our offense sputtered," Foles said. "It was good to get back on track."
It can't be overstated how much it means to be the guy who got that offense back on track. The Eagles' opening-night romp against Washington seems like a million years ago. Kelly's fast-paced, innovative offense had been smothered by division rivals Dallas and New York.
This team desperately needed a big game from a quarterback, any quarterback. Foles gave the Eagles one of the greatest games ever played.
"Nick is a tremendous quarterback," center Jason Kelce. "There was a little bit different look in his eye going into the game. It was his mannerisms and everything. He was upset with the way he played before, in the Dallas game. The whole team was a little bit down. I just think, overall, he seemed extremely focused on having a good game this week."
"He had an unreal game," Cooper said. "I'm extremely proud of him. He's a great teammate. He has so much confidence and that's something you need in a quarterback. He handled it great. He's a real winner."
Kelly knew Foles had tied the NFL record.
"There's a sign in our office," Kelly said. "I walk by it all the time. Adrian Burk. So I know what the record is."
Foles' seventh touchdown, Cooper's third of the day, was a 5-yard toss with 4:28 left in the third quarter. Foles came out for two more offensive possessions, two opportunities to break the record. Both ended in punts and Kelly sent Barkley out to mop up.
"This isn't about records," Kelly said. "If I put Nick out there and try to get a record and he gets hurt, that's being silly."
After he left the game, Foles said, teammates told him about the record.
"I had no clue how many touchdowns I had thrown," Foles said. "I just slowed things down out there. I felt really comfortable. That was a fun game to play in."
It was game full of a-ha moments, a performance that should keep Foles in the starting lineup for the rest of this season and, just maybe, even beyond that.