During the abbreviated week leading up to Thursday night's game, quarterback Nick Foles was one of the NFL's hot stories.
His 381-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers last Sunday had fans excited about the future. The next step for Foles was to perform well on a short week against arguably the best defense he had faced in the Cincinnati Bengals.
And though some things went right for Foles, he will be the first to say that not enough good things happened in the Eagles' 34-13 loss.
"We have to get the job done," Foles said after the game. "At the quarterback position, I take pride in putting points on the board. We didn't put on more points than the other team, so that's on the quarterback. That's on me."
Foles finished the night 16-of-33 for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception. While Foles did have some big throws, including a 46-yarder to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, it wasn't enough to secure a win. Foles played from behind early and was inconsistent with his deep passes. One such throw, a deep pass intended for Maclin in the third quarter, was underthrown and intercepted by Bengals cornerback Leon Hall.
"We tried to take advantage of the deep route and I made a bad throw," Foles said. "You just have to play the game, and no matter what play is called, you have to run it. I have to be on target. I have to be on time. We have to execute and drive the ball down the field and put it in the end zone."
Foles' interception was one of four turnovers committed by the offense. Foles may be a rookie, but he knows perfectly well how damaging turnovers are. Despite these mistakes, Foles and the offense refused to give up, even as the game moved further out of reach.
"The game is never over until the time runs out," he said. "That's the mindset I have no matter what the score. We're going to play our hearts out. We just can't make mistakes. Mistakes lose you football games."
Every decision, every throw and, yes, every mistake is a learning experience for Foles. To his credit, the rookie has been critical of his own play, and it's largely responsible for his impressive development over the past six weeks.
"You have to go back to the film; have to keep grinding, keep getting better. That's why one week you win; the next week it's tough," he said. "I just have to keep learning. I have to be critical of myself. There are a lot of things to improve on, but I'm going to work hard at it and work hard to improve on all of them."
Foles and the Eagles will have 10 days to ruminate over this loss before welcoming in the Redskins next Sunday for the last home game of the season. With two games left to play, don't expect Foles – or the Eagles, for that matter – to simply roll over. Foles will continue with the same even-keeled demeanor that is quickly becoming his trademark.
"I'll take it a day at a time," he said. "There's a lot to learn from this film. I saw the guys' eyes after the game. Everybody's still going to be there working. Everybody is going to still fight. We're going to stick together as a team. I know the coaches are sticking together, and we're going to move forward. It's the only thing I know how to do is to move forward no matter what. Win, lose, no matter what.
"I want to win these games. I know all of us want to win these games, but it's going to take the proper steps. We need to look at the film, see what we need to do better, protect the ball and stay together; keep pushing it and get something going."
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