PHILADELPHIA — The shadows had just about overtaken Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon as the Eagles’ offense trotted onto the field late in the third quarter. There was just a sliver of sunlight left, and Nick Foles, positioned in shotgun formation, was standing right in it. The visual effect was that his silhouette stretched for more than 10 yards, beyond the Houston Texans‘ defensive front. Larger than life.
Foles took the snap, stepped up in the pocket and threw it as far as he was physically able. Nelson Agholor plucked it out of the sky in stride and raced into the end zone unchallenged, finishing the 83-yard go-ahead score with a backward plunge a la DeSean Jackson against Dallas back in 2010.
The dazzling impression Foles made on the Lincoln Financial Field crowd Sunday in a dramatic 32-30 win over Houston was likely his last. There is a real chance he has played his final home game in an Eagles uniform. It was not lost on Foles, who got choked up talking about it afterward.
“It’s emotional,” he said, his voice catching. “I knew there was a chance this could be it. I don’t think about the future, but I am aware of that because this city means a lot to me, this team means a lot to me, wearing that jersey means a lot to me.”
Foles’ performance only enhanced his legend. He established a franchise record with 471 passing yards and became the first Eagles QB with 400 pass yards and four touchdowns in a single game since … well, Nick Foles, who turned the trick in 2013 when he went for 406 yards and seven TDs in Oakland.
The moment most likely to stick permanently with fans and teammates was one that started with a scare. Foles was drilled in the chest by Jadeveon Clowney late in the game and lay on his back in the end zone for several minutes. Chants of “Foles!” began echoing through the stadium, encouraging him to get up. Eventually he did, and the crowd went nuts. Nate Sudfeld went in to replace him, and thought it might be a long-term gig.
“I thought he was out. He was laying there forever,” Sudfeld said. “I didn’t know if he was out for forever or freaking one day. You have no idea.”
It was one play. Foles got right back into the lineup and led the Eagles down the field, setting up Jake Elliott‘s game-winning 35-yard field goal as time expired.
The Eagles have won two in a row since Foles replaced the injured Carson Wentz in the lineup, both coming against first-place teams in the Los Angeles Rams and Texans. The offense scored 30-plus points in both wins after hitting that mark just once over the first 13 games.
“We get confused sometimes because he’s a backup quarterback; he just happens to be Carson Wentz’s backup,” said safety Malcolm Jenkins. “He’s a player. He’s a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Obviously, he’s pumped life back into this team, the offense, playing phenomenal right when we need it. But that’s Nick. He’s no different. It’s not like he rose to the occasion. This is what he’s made for.”
The debate in Philly regarding the city’s two gifted QBs, Wentz and Foles, will pick up this week. Are the Eagles, who named Foles the starter for Sunday’s game against Washington, definitely going to let the Super Bowl MVP walk, even if his hot hand continues into the postseason?
For all of the oxygen that will be spent on this topic, the reality is that this is, and should be, Wentz’s team for the long haul. Foles will most likely will be in a different city next year with a chance to cement himself as a franchise QB.
He has helped his chances with his performance over the past two weeks, while stirring the imagination of the Eagles’ fan base one last time.
“I’m very grateful for every opportunity to play here, to play in front of our fans, to wear that jersey no matter what,” Foles said. “No one can take that away from me.
“This was a special one tonight. I don’t know what the future holds. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to focus on now, enjoy just being in Philadelphia, enjoy the people, enjoy wearing this jersey because it’s some of the most special moments of my life.”