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Foles Readies For Perfect Ending

Posted Dec 25, 2013

Clinching. Finishing the task. Winning the division. That moment is here for Nick Foles, and a better setting there has never been for an Eagles quarterback ...

Isn't it remarkable how this has all worked out for Nick Foles? His journey to this point has been one cultivated by hard work, confidence, belief in himself and in those around him. One year ago Foles was sidelined with a broken hand after finishing his season one week prior to the end of the 2012 campaign, and the thinking was that he "could" be a quarterback around whom the Eagles could build.

The talk of "future franchise quarterback" has been replaced by the present for Foles, and for the Eagles. They are 9-6 and preparing for Sunday night's game at Dallas, and Foles has the NFL's top passer rating.

He also has a score to settle. In an October 20 game against Dallas, one hyped as an early NFC East showdown between two teams that would surely score more than 30 points each, Foles and the offense shut down for 60 minutes.  The Eagles managed just a field goal in a 17-3 loss, a game that was surprisingly shaped by the defenses.

Foles played poorly, completing just 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards before he was knocked out of the game late in the third quarter with a concussion.

Since then, of course, Foles has been remarkable and the Eagles have taken control of the division. There is something to be said, something very important to be said, about bouncing back from a lousy game, and Foles has answered every call since he returned from the concussion.

He still, naturally, is asked about "the game" and his performance and, well, everyone wants to know how a quarterback who has played so well in his two seasons here could have such a struggle against Dallas in a moment like that?

Foles shrugs it off. He's talked about it many times, always with patience and maturity. It was a bad game, "one of those games," and there is not much more to say. Foles has watched the film. He has addressed, along with his coaches, the problems the offense had that day, and collectively the offense has gotten back into its groove. The Eagles are second in the NFL in points scored (27.9 per game) after 15 games and are 22 points away from a franchise single-season record.

Still, there is "the game" to talk about. What happened?

"There are just some things in life that if you try to figure it out it will drive you crazy," said Foles, "and it's easy just to say, 'It was a bad day.' If I look into every meaning, every little thing, everything I did and try to break it down, I'll drive myself crazy.

"We've been asked the question several times and everybody wants an answer, and the answer is: We had a bad day. We did not play well. From that game we've grown together as a team. It was character building."

The bounce back started two weeks after that game when Foles returned to the starting lineup cleared from the concussion and tossed seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 win at Oakland. Wins over  Green Bay, Washington, Arizona and Detroit followed, then a loss at Minnesota, before the Eagles showed more mettle Sunday in the blowout win against Chicago.

Foles has studied the loss at Dallas from a clinical point of view. He wants to be better on Sunday night, and to do so he has to go out and play the way he has played all season.

"I look at it in a critical manner. I know that we've grown as a team since then, and I'm going to use it as, I'm going to try to get better," said Foles. "Where did we make mistakes? Where could we have capitalized and we didn't? I'm going to work on it this week. I'm not going to dwell on it and wish I would have thrown a pass then and there. I can't go back in time. I can't do that.

"What I can control is how I do today ... If I take care of today then I'll worry about tomorrow when it comes and I'll try to get better then and hopefully by game day we'll be in a good position to be successful."

Foles has the right approach, one he's taken all season. He's been so good, so consistent all year that the curious nature in all of us look back at the Dallas game and wonder how it happened. Let's go with "it was just a bad game" and leave it at that, OK? Foles deserves all of our confidence after his franchise-best rookie season and the remarkable play in 2013.

Foles can close it all out with a win at Dallas to clinch the NFC East for the Eagles. It's a next-step moment for the second-year quarterback, one that arrived perhaps ahead of schedule in some minds.

How will Foles had the big stage? Probably just as he's handled every moment in his career -- as a learning experience, understanding that the attention to detail that he displays during his week of preparation will have him ready to play his best football on Sunday night.

A chance to win the division title at Dallas is about as perfect a setting as the fans could want. It's one to remember for a long, long time, and Foles is in the right spot to advance his development as a young, rising quarterback and the one to lead this team into the postseason.

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