Nick Foles turned in a phenomenal passing performance for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, leading the team to a last-second 23-21 victory. Foles efficiently led the Eagles down the field for two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the contest. He capped it off with a one-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired, propelling the Eagles to their first victory since September 30.
With little help from the running game, Foles was forced to carry the Eagles’ offense. He threw the ball 51 times, ran three times, and was sacked on six plays, meaning offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called 60 pass attempts for a rookie quarterback.
Nevertheless, Foles was terrific.
His 32 completions are the third-highest single-game total of any rookie in league history. He threw for 381 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, posting a passer rating of 98.6. Foles became the 13th quarterback in NFL history to throw the ball at least 50 times, complete 30 of the passes, post 380 or more passing yards, two or more touchdown passes, and no interceptions.
Foles added three runs for 27 yards, including a 10-yard scamper into the end zone. That gave Foles over 400 total yards for the day.
Whether Foles can become the quarterback of the future remains to be seen. His performance did come against a passing defense that ranks dead last in the NFL in yards allowed through the air. However, Foles was missing a slew of offensive starters, notably LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and three-fifths of his offensive line.
A breakdown of Foles’ performance shows he looked confident and poised in the pocket, making correct decisions. His arm was lively, and he was effective without being limited to checkdowns and screen passes.
Foles has displayed an impressive level of accuracy, specifically his ability to fit the football into tight spaces.
Foles has completed 61.4 percent of his passes since he took over as the starter. Compare that to Michael Vick’s numbers this year (58.5 percent), last year (59.8 percent) or throughout his career (56.3 percent).
Foles is still just a third-round rookie taking his first NFL snaps. But he’s been very effective. Of the 224 rookie quarterbacks that have thrown at least 100 passes as a rookie, Foles has the fifth-highest completion percentage.
ABILITY TO IMPROVISE
Foles is a classic pocket passer by every definition of the phrase. He posted a 5.14 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which was the slowest by any non-lineman.
For the first three games in which he started for the Eagles, Foles never attempted a run.
That’s why his first NFL run was so shocking.
The Eagles had the ball at the 10-yard line, driving for a score. Foles took the snap, anticipating to pass.
When the entire Buccaneers team followed Foles’ eyes as he looked to running back Dion Lewis, that left an open lane for Foles.
By that point, Foles had dropped back to the 23-yard line. It wasn’t the quickest touchdown run the league has ever seen, but it was a great decision by Foles to take off and run.
EFFICIENCY ON THIRD & FOURTH DOWNS
Foles was particularly effective on third downs. He completed nine of 14 passes on the day, throwing for 134 yards and a touchdown pass.
On the final drive, Foles converted a long third down and a pair of fourth downs. That’s the mark of a great quarterback in the ability to come through in big situations.
Foles showed the confidence, the poise, and the leadership of a 10-year NFL veteran. He never swayed in the final two drives, as he cooly marched the Eagles to two scores in the final four minutes of action.
Arguably Foles’ finest decision was his fourth-down conversion to Jason Avant. On this play, Foles completely made up the play at the line of scrimmage.
Per Reuben Frank of CSN Philly, the play Foles called wasn’t even in the Eagles’ playbook. Foles essentially combined two plays, calling for Avant to run a post instead of a crossing route.
Foles hit Avant in stride on the 4th-and-5, and that gave the Eagles one more play to go to win the game.
Don’t forget that Foles didn’t only lead the Eagles to two touchdowns with the game on the line. He also took the Eagles 54 yards in less than 30 seconds right before halftime.
The Eagles got the ball at their own 26-yard line with 28 seconds to go. Foles connected with running back Dion Lewis for a 28-yard screen pass, then hooked up with Riley Cooper two plays later for a first down into field goal territory.
Unfortunately, a false start pushed the ball back five yards, and kicker Alex Henery’s 58-yarder bounced off the uprights. But Foles did his job in getting the Eagles downfield quickly.
Later on when Foles converted the do-or-die fourth-down pass to Avant, he had the presence of mind to spike the ball with two seconds on the clock, rather than try a desperation pass with the offense not ready.
That’s smart quarterbacking.
THE CLUTCH FACTOR
In the final two drives of the game, Foles was impeccable. He completed 11 of 17 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns passes. That’s a passer rating of 128.3.
Foles converted three plays in which failure to convert would have been a loss. He ran for a first down on 4th-and-short, threw a 22-yard strike to Avant on another fourth down, and then hit Maclin for the game-winner to give the Eagles their first win in 10 weeks.
Whether Foles can continue his fine play will be determined in the final three weeks. But what is for sure is that he was the real deal against Tampa Bay.