Nick Foles not ready to see Eagles career end as he leads game-winning TD drive
CHICAGO – Throughout these last two weeks, Nick Foles knew that he could have been playing his last game as the Eagles' quarterback.
That thought struck him in the celebration of a euphoric locker room after he led the Eagles to a game-winning touchdown, then watched captivated as the Chicago Bears' Cody Parkey, a former Eagle, tried a potential game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
The field goal hit the left upright, then the crossbar, then bounced out, and the Eagles finally secured a hard-fought 16-15 win over the Bears on Sunday in an NFC wildcard playoff game.
"I always try to take a moment and just sit there and reflect," Foles said. "You know, you're enjoying it with your teammates, but also you're giving it everything you have. I realized then that I'm blessed to be able to wear this jersey at least one more week."
That's because Foles continued his magical playoff run. He started his fourth straight game in place of Carson Wentz, who's out with a back injury. Each time, Foles led the Eagles to a victory to keep their season alive.
This came after Foles replaced Wentz last December when Wentz tore two knee ligaments. Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, where he was named the game's MVP.
This time, Foles capped off a game-winning touchdown drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Golden Tate with 56 seconds left.
Then the Eagles held on for dear life.
The Eagles will face the top-seeded Saints next Sunday in New Orleans at 4:40 p.m. in the NFC Divisional round. The Eagles lost to the Saints 48-7 on Nov. 18.
Foles finished 25 of 40 for 266 yards with two touchdowns. Most importantly, he never wavered during the game. And this one was anything but graceful. The Bears had the top-ranked defense in the NFL, and they showed why, intercepting Foles twice.
Even when the Eagles got the ball at their 40 yard line with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter, teammates were struck by how calm Foles was in the huddle.
It remained that way as the Eagles methodically marched down the field, getting a first down at the Bears' 2 yard line with just under 2 minutes remaining. But the Eagles were stopped on three straight plays, setting up a 4th-and-goal from the 2.
The Eagles' season was on the line.
"He just came in the huddle, calm, collected, cool Nick, and called the play," Tate said. "We kind of made a look at each other and next thing you know, the ball was on its way and I had an opportunity to make a play."
Eagles coach Doug Pederson called a timeout and Foles came over to the sideline. They both quickly agreed on the play. Foles took the snap, rolled out to his right to keep the Bears' pass rush off him, then threw a quick pass to Tate in the front corner of the end zone.
"We talked on the sideline and said, 'You know, let's just run this sprint-out,'" Pederson said.
There was never any hesitation, never any panic. Foles executed the play and the Eagles won.
"Nick is Nick," Pederson said. "He's going to stay calm ... Just very efficient. Again, it wasn't pretty at times, but he hung in there and did some good things."
So what does this mean for Foles?
The main thing is he gets another chance to wear the Eagles' uniform, something that he has cherished throughout his two tours with the Eagles. But the Eagles have made it clear that Wentz is their franchise quarterback.
For Foles to return, the Eagles would have to pay him $20 million next season, which seems unlikely for a backup quarterback.
Foles has also said in the past that he wants to be a starter again.
Foles isn't worried about that now. He's enjoying the chance to keep this going as long as he can. To him, it's all about "staying in the moment."
"That's what I've been focusing on, staying in the moment" he said. "It was a crazy game."
And Foles, once again, stayed calm through it all.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.