GLENDALE, Ariz. – When he was finished, 62 passes later, quarterback Nick Foles walked off the field at University of Phoenix Stadium an exhausted man. He absorbed some hits and sucked in some deep gulps of air in an up-and-down and ultimately disappointing performance on Sunday in the 24-20 loss as the Eagles just could not take advantage of the opportunities they had in this football game.
"We made a few mistakes that we need to clean up," said Foles. "We fought and I'm proud of our guys. We will clean it up and go forward."
At times, Foles was very good. He had some protection early and had a good thing going with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had 7 catches for 93 yards and a 21-yard touchdown in the first half. At times, though, Foles missed some targets that were open, took some big hits when Arizona's front seven successfully blitzed him and tossed an interception in the end zone.
The Eagles gained a lot of yards (521 total net yards) and Foles completed a lot of passes (a career-high 36) with a solid short-passing game and a couple of big-time shots down the field. It was tough to do more down the field, however, so the Eagles had to dink and dunk their way up the field – with the exception of a roll right and 50-yard toss down the field to Riley Cooper, who made a diving catch and a 54-yard touchdown pass to Maclin in the third quarter.
The trouble was when the Eagles reached Arizona territory. They scored only 20 points despite reaching the Arizona side of the 50-yard line on 11 possessions, including the 54-yard touchdown pass to Maclin.
Foles' interceptions, Nos. 8 and 9 on the season, were costly. The first came when Foles rolled left and tried to throw into the end zone for wide receiver Josh Huff, who appeared to be open. But cornerback Antonio Cromartie closed on the pass and made a fingertips interception two yards deep in the end zone for the takeaway.
"Cromartie just fell off (in covering another receiver) and I was just a split-second late," said Foles. "Bad play by me."
The second interception happened in the third quarter when Foles threw for Cooper, who made a "dig" route (making his cut toward the middle of the field) as Foles' pass went behind him and into the hands of Cromartie. The turnover was especially critical, as Arizona turned it into a field goal to tie the game, 17-17, in the fourth quarter.
"We just have to keep working towards it," said Foles. "You can't just say, 'Oh, that's the way it is, that's the way it's going to be. If anyone has ever played a sport, you know you're going to go through adversity. Things are going to happen that you to keep pushing forward. Just because a turnover happened doesn't mean the world is going to end. You keep fighting, you keep moving and you keep learning."
Foles took the Eagles from their 20 to the Arizona 16-yard line in the final seconds, but three passes into the end zone were unsuccessful. Foles was critical of his final attempt, to wide receiver Jordan Matthews, for not giving Matthews a chance to catch the ball In bounds.
So while Foles put up big yardage numbers (411 passing yards) and the offense moved up and down the field, the end result was unsatisfying. The Eagles have a lot of work to do to correct the miscues that are costing the Eagles in the red zone – they were 0 for 3 scoring touchdowns in the red zone on Sunday – and the turnovers that continue to mount.
"We're going to work at it and I'm going to give it everything I have to correct the mistakes," said Foles. "This isn't going to stop us."