Nick Foles refuses to let his Philadelphia story end

CHICAGO — Nick Foles says he knows there will be a time when his unlikely ride with the Philadelphia Eagles finally comes to an end and he’s forced to take his midnight green jersey off one last time.

Pardon the rest of us if we say we’re not so sure.

The reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback is kryptonite to the offseason set of golf clubs; the antidote to locker cleanout day. The Eagles’ future still belongs to Carson Wentz, sure, but the past and present continue to be dominated by a backup quarterback writing a legend that Wentz will be hard pressed to match.

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Glance at the stat sheet from Sunday’s 16-15 NFC wild-card win over the Chicago Bears and you might not walk away that impressed. It was the least of Foles’ four playoff performances from a numbers standpoint: 25-of-40 passing for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating of 77.7 — while a great number for a Vegas slot machine — was his first playoff rating that failed to hit triple digits.

Nick Foles was great when it mattered most, a theme for the Eagles quarterback. (AP)
Nick Foles was great when it mattered most, a theme for the Eagles quarterback. (AP)

And yet when you consider Foles’ entire day — bouncing back from two first-half turnovers, leading bookend touchdown drives in the second half and playing in a road atmosphere he called the most hostile of his career, all while playing with a couple of bruised ribs — it will go down as a sneaky underrated game on his Eagles resume.

“It wasn’t pretty at times,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said when asked about Foles. “But he hung in there and did some good things.”

The good things came against a Bears defense that was rated tops in the league and had humbled nearly every quarterback it faced in its breakout season.

Foles, who took back over from an injured Wentz in Week 15, opened the game by leading the Eagles on a drive that ended with a field goal. Those three points were big and not just because of Cody Parkey’s inability to collect three of his own at the end of the game. The Bears came into the game having allowed a total of 10 first-quarter points over its previous 10 games.

The rest of the first half was much more of a struggle with Foles throwing two picks, including one in the end zone.

But an Eagles defense that was up to the task kept the team in the game and Foles said he fed off the support.

“The game wasn’t going great in the first half offensively,” Foles said. “But our defense was keeping us in it and they just kept coming to the sidelines [saying] ‘We got you, we got you, we’re going to get you the ball back.’ They never turn, they never got upset. They just had our back.”

Foles’ first drive of the second half was a seven-play, 83-yard drive that took advantage of three Bears penalties and ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert that gave the Eagles a 10-6 lead.

The Bears reclaimed the lead with a Parkey field goal and a touchdown drive of their own, but the Eagles got the ball back at their own 40 with 3:47 left.

Because “Nick is Nick” (a truism repeated at least a few times by at least a few teammates after the game), everyone in the Eagles locker room said they knew what was coming.

“We knew we didn’t have to get that crazy,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “We knew we could just eat up yards and march down the field.”

And the Eagles did. Foles hooked up on chunk-eating receptions with Goedert, Ertz and ex-Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery to get down to the Bears’ 2-yard-line. After three failed plays, Foles found Golden Tate sprinting and straddling the goal line for what would end up being the difference in the game.

Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate had the winning score, a 2-yard touchdown reception with 56 seconds left. (AP)
Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate had the winning score, a 2-yard touchdown reception with 56 seconds left. (AP)

Next up for Foles and the Eagles is a Sunday trip to New Orleans and a date with another Austin (Texas) Westlake High quarterbacking product: Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Eagles were blown out there 48-7 on Nov. 18 and will be a decided underdog like they were against the Bears.

Foles didn’t play in that first Saints game. And since he seems able to keep negotiating with his non-negotiable exit date in Philly, should any of us be surprised if the Eagles go down and win there too?

Whatever the case, Foles said he’s aware his magical time with Philadelphia is coming to an end, whether it’s next week or after another Super Bowl, this time in Atlanta.

As such, he said he tried to take a moment in the crowded and victorious visitors locker room to appreciate the ride that refuses to end.

“I’m blessed to be able to wear this jersey at least one more week,” Foles said. “I get to play with these guys one more week. I get to be with the coaches one more week. That’s something I really look forward to.”

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