Quarterback Nick Foles had spent the first eight games on the Eagles' sidelines, watching and learning from Michael Vick. But when Vick was concussed early in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Cowboys, Foles had to put down the clipboard and lead his team against the Eagles' division rival.
The 38-23 final score wasn't what he was hoping for, but the rookie gave fans reason for optimism. Foles finished the night 22-of-32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Foles found a wide-open Jeremy Maclin in the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter that electrified the crowd. But he also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and fumbled in the end zone at the end of the game.
After the game, Foles wasn't interested in reflecting on the things he did well. He was focused on the end result.
"I made some mistakes," he said. "I can't turn the ball over and that's the most important thing to win games. You can't turn the ball over. I turned it over twice and they ended up being touchdowns and I can't do that. But that's a learning experience. I'm going to learn from it and get better."
It's not surprising that Foles said he felt butterflies when he entered the game. After all, it was his first appearance in an NFL regular season game. And while he had every reason to be jittery, Foles said he felt better once he looked around the huddle and saw playmakers like Maclin, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek.
"When I get in the huddle with those guys, you're a team. You're brothers," Foles said. "I looked into their eyes and I felt comfortable. I knew I had 10 other guys out there with me that were going to play as hard as they could and that gives you a sense of comfort and you just have to play fast."
One of the best things you could say for Foles' performance is that he looked the part of a veteran quarterback. He stood strong in the pocket, didn't get flustered and ran the offense with confidence.
"Hey, it's my job," he said. "My job is to go out there, and if something happens to Mike like tonight, I have to be ready. I have to be ready to win the game. I didn't get the job done tonight, but I always have a 24-hour rule with dealing with games and looking at film and the emotions of it. It's an emotional game. You want to win every game, you want to fight every game and it's back to work."
After the game, head coach Andy Reid said he was unsure what Vick's status will be for next week's game against the Redskins. Foles said he understands his role, and isn't thinking long-term.
"I'm just focused on this game right now," he said. "I'm not worrying about that. All that's the coaches. Right now I'm praying for Mike's health. Mike is – like I said before – the leader of this team and he was doing a great job and it was unfortunate and I'm just praying for Mike's health."
If Vick does miss next week's game in Washington, Foles will get the nod. He's already been preparing diligently, and said his approach won't change if he's starting the game.
"Like anything else, you have to work one day at a time," Foles said. "It doesn't matter who the quarterback is on any team, you have to keep working hard. There are going to be tough times. There are tough times in life and this is a tough time ... It's like anything – just keep working, keep working, keep studying film, practice, work hard. It's like anything else; we just have to keep fighting."
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