Foles hardly resembles jolly, old Santa Claus, but he's given fans
of the Philadelphia Eagles plenty of gifts this year. They want one
A victory over the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) would clinch the NFC East
title for the Eagles (9-6) and secure the No. 3 seed in the
conference. It's already been a remarkable turnaround under rookie
coach Chip Kelly after a 4-12 finish last year.
But this story is far from complete. For all of his accomplishments,
Foles is constantly reminded about the first time the Eagles played
Both teams were 3-3 when Dallas came to Philadelphia, shut down
Kelly's high-flying offense and knocked Foles out of the game with a
concussion at the end of the third quarter. Foles was 11 of 29 for
80 yards in the 17-3 loss, a dismal performance in only his second
start after replacing an injured Michael Vick.
"I know everybody is going to dwell on last time, but this game
isn't the last game," Foles said.
Foles returned from the concussion two weeks later and threw seven
touchdown passes to tie an NFL record in a victory at Oakland. He
leads the league with a passer rating of 118.8, which is
third-highest in the history of the NFL. He's thrown 25 TD passes to
only two interceptions. He's led the Eagles to a 7-2 record in nine
starts and has them on the verge of going worst to first in the
Yet, he's still asked about that first game against Dallas on Oct.
20. See, beating the Cowboys is an obsession in Philadelphia. It's
almost equivalent to a playoff game every time they face the boys
with the stars on their helmet.
"If I look into every little thing that I did and try to break it
down, I'll drive myself crazy as well," Foles said. "We've been
asked that question several times and everyone wants an answer, but
I think the answer is that we had a bad day. We did not play well,
but from that game we've grown together as a team."
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The offense has been nearly unstoppable with Foles under
center since. Foles is having one of the best seasons in
franchise history. The offense has set team records with eight
games of 30-plus points and six games of at least 450 total
yards. They're 22 points and 79 yards away from setting club
records for most points and most yards.
So, maybe that loss to Dallas didn't hurt them too much after
"We use that game as not necessarily fuel, but it was
character-building," Foles said. "Tough games like that, tough
things in life, you face adversity and it hurts. You don't feel
good. You feel it in your heart; it's not fun. But you learn how
to get better. You overcome obstacles and you grow together as a
team, and that's the beauty of it. We kept rallying and we kept
There were critics who thought Foles folded under pressure the
first time against the Cowboys. Though it was only Week 7, first
place was on the line, and he was still trying to prove himself
worthy of being the starter.
"I don't think whatever the setting is, is too big for Nick,"
offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "He didn't play very
well. I don't think any of us played well the first time we
played Dallas. I looked back on it now and I don't recognize
some of what happened. We dropped balls; we weren't on the same
page with who we blocked. Certainly Nick had some inaccuracies.
We did a poor job coaching and playing.
"I think we're a different team now."
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