The back-to-back home losses against the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in late October were low points in the season for the Philadelphia Eagles. The case can be made, however, that those losses served as the turning point of the season. Following those discouraging results, the Eagles sat at 3-5, and this new team and new coaching staff could have lost faith and gone in the tank. Instead, everyone tapped into their resolve and decided to learn from those games and use them as a springboard for the rest of the season.
"Yeah, those two games we just simply didn't execute," quarterback Nick Foles said Thursday. "We didn't play well as a team, I didn't play well from the quarterback position and we just didn't execute (Foles did not play in the loss to the Giants). When you don't execute and you're not on the same page, it's not going to go well. But it's games like that that you learn from. You grow together, like I've said before, and it makes you a better team as long as you look at it in the right view, in the right state of mind. We did, and down the road it was a blessing."
It was only two months ago, but given what has transpired since then, it feels like so much longer. As much has changed, Foles will still look at the tape from the first Cowboys game and determine how he can be better. The ride from then until now has been exciting, but it won't mean anything if Foles and his teammates are satisfied resting on their laurels.
"We've played a lot of football since that game and we've grown together as a team," Foles said. "I've grown as a player and a person, our team's grown, our coaches have grown … I'll look at that film and I'll see what we did wrong, where I didn't execute and how I can do better. Going into this (game), I really have to execute and be better. Just because we've played well since, doesn't mean that we're guaranteed to play well. We have to have the same week of preparation we've had during the weeks where we've had success. We have to have that same burning desire to go out there and do great. That's why I love this team, we work hard every day and we believe in each other. That gives us an opportunity to win on Sunday."
Foles' numbers to this point are unprecedented, and he is having one of the best seasons for a quarterback in league history. But you would never know that based on Foles' thought process. The quarterback does not care about anything that is not team-oriented, and he is acutely aware that you're only as good as your last throw.
"I don't really concern myself because the numbers don't mean anything going into this game," Foles said. "Those numbers don't guarantee I complete my next throw. I'm trying to figure out the throws I didn't complete, the interceptions, the missed opportunities – maybe I missed something, or maybe I got off a route too early. That's the stuff I look at and try to (improve). Of course, you feel good about the success the team's had together and use that as fuel. You keep going and you keep building on that, but I don't dwell on the records or the stats because it really means absolutely nothing going into the next game."
When Foles walks onto the turf at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Sunday night, it will be for his biggest game since he was a high school senior at Westlake High in Austin, Texas.
"The (high school) state championship in Texas was pretty high (stakes)," Foles said. "Bowl games are really high (stakes), but that was a big game. At that time in my life I hadn't been through college football, and you're playing with all the guys you grew up with on the big stage against, at that time, Southlake Carroll was the No. 1 team in the country. We ended up losing, but we played them really, really well. That was tough, but all the games I've played in, I've taken a lot from them."
Then, in something of an epiphany, Foles had a realization and drew a parallel between that team from his senior year of high school and this Eagles team of 2013.
"The thing about that season is, at the beginning of the season we had a lot of adversity that went on with the team and players, injuries, stuff like that," Foles said. "It was how we got there. We didn't always play well, but we turned it on in the playoffs and we stuck together as a team. It's sort of like this year. We didn't start out very well, but we started to figure each other out. You stick together, you believe in each other and you play for each other, and that's how it was my senior year at Westlake (High School) – we believed for each other and we fought for each other."
Hopefully, the result this time around has a different, happier ending.
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