One start, he’s Bobby Hoying. The next, he’s Peyton Manning. Can someone please explain this? Is there an explanation? The Eagles needed to see Nick Foles not be the same guy who flopped against Dallas two weeks ago at the Linc. Foles needed to prove he’s not the choke artist fans and reporters perceived him to be. We can safely say Foles sent the right message, loud and clear (see 10 observations). Foles on Sunday wasn’t just an upgrade over the guy who couldn’t hit open receivers against the Cowboys. He was the best he’s ever been in his pro career, the best any Eagles quarterback has ever been in a single game and one of the best any NFL quarterback has been in a single game.
Starting again in place of an injured Vick, Foles walked into O.co Coliseum, the NFL’s most notoriously hostile venue, and tossed an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns to lead a 49-20 route of the Raiders. He tossed those seven TDs on in his first nine possessions.
The Raiders (3-5) had won three of their four home games and had allowed more than 18 points at home just once. Foles helped the Eagles snap their two-game losing streak and re-ignited an offense that hadn’t scored a touchdown in its last eight quarters. How does a quarterback go from one of the worst performances in franchise history to one for the ages? How does a team go from averaging five points per game in a two-week stretch to scoring their most points since Nov. 15, 2010? They’re just two more strange, unpredictable subplots in a season full of storylines under first-year coach Chip Kelly.
Two weeks after he imploded against Dallas at the Linc, passing for just 80 yards before leaving in the third with a concussion, Foles went from one extreme to the other. His seven TD passes, three to Riley Cooper, tied him with former Eagles quarterback Adrian Burk, Peyton Manning and four others (see box) for the most ever by an NFL quarterback. More than 59 years had passed since Burk threw seven on the road against the Redskins.
Last week, team owner Jeffrey Lurie said Foles would have the chance to showcase himself as a potential franchise quarterback with Vick again sidelined indefinitely. It’s safe to say Foles will get the ball again next Sunday against Green Bay, even if Vick gets a hamstring implant. Foles helped the Eagles (4-5) win their first game since Oct. 6 and kept the Eagles in the NFC East race on a day when both Washington (3-5) and Dallas (5-4) squeezed out victories.
Quarterback report: The big lead Foles built early alleviated the pressure on the Eagles’ defense, which limited the damage done by quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the only real threat in Oakland’s offense.
Foles completed 22 of 28 passes for a career-best 406 yards and compiled a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He tossed touchdowns on his first four possessions, with two going to Riley Cooper, and the other two going to tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz.
He had more passing yards on his opening drive (94) than he had in his last start (80). For the first time since Oct. 6 against the Giants, the Eagles scored TDs on consecutive possessions. In the second half, Foles threw touchdowns to LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson on his first possessions. After a punt, he connected with Riley Cooper for the record-tying TD pass.
Pryor, the former Ohio State star whom Kelly had tried to lure to Oregon, completed 22 of 41 passes for 288 yards and was picked off twice. He ran 10 times for 94 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown for only the second time this season. He left late in the fourth with a knee injury.
Offensive hero: Besides Foles, his wide receivers came through with big catches. Cooper caught five passes for a career-best 139 yards and a career-best three touchdowns. Jackson (5-150) had his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Offensive zero: Remember when Darren McFadden was a Pro Bowl running back? He was Oakland’s third-leading rusher, with 12 yards on five carries. He was never a factor and left with a hamstring injury.
Defensive hero: The Eagles' linebackers did an excellent contain job on Pryor, who got most of his rushing yards on a 35-yard run but didn’t score a touchdown. Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans kept Pryor from moving the chains and outside linebacker Trent Cole provided pass rush, picking up his first sack since Dec. 13, 2012 against the Bengals.
Defensive zero: Raiders rookie corner D.J. Hayden, the 12th overall pick, was roasted all game. He gave up TDs to Cooper on consecutive possessions in the first quarter as the Eagles built an early lead.
Injuries: Left tackle Jason Peters left in the third quarter with a pectoral injury and was questionable to return. Allen Barbre replaced him and finished the game. Right cornerback Bradley Fletcher also left with a pectoral injury.
Did you know?: The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first four possessions for first time since that famous 2010 Monday night game against the Redskins, a 59-28 win at FedEx on Nov. 15. In that game, they scored TDs on their first five possessions.
Also, the Eagles had just six touchdowns on their previous 46 drives going into Oakland, where they scored touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions.
Inactive: QB Michael Vick, OT Matt Tobin, OT Dennis Kelly, RB Matthew Tucker, LB Jake Knott and WR B.J. Cunningham.
Looking ahead: The Eagles (4-5) are on the road again, traveling to NFC North-leading Green Bay (5-2) for a game against the Packers at ageless Lambeau Field. Green Bay plays Chicago on Monday night.
- Geoff Mosher, CSN Philly