In a stunning reversal from the last time we saw Nick Foles struggle in the loss to Dallas on October 20, he was hesitant and lacking confidence and the Eagles lurched three a three-point performance in the loss, their first of two straight against NFC East opponents in which the offense scored nary a point.
On Sunday in the win (49-20!), Foles was Montana-esque. In fact, he was better, completing 22 of 28 passes for seven touchdowns (tying an NFL record), 406 yards and compiling a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Foles led an offensive performance that rolled up 537 yards against a good, a very good, Oakland defense as Chip Kelly's brilliant scheme hit the Raiders with an array of screens, mid-range catches and runs and some over-the-top big plays in the passing game.
The Eagles matched their 2012 win total with the victory, and the 60-minute performance was the team's most complete of the season as the Eagles pummeled Oakland in every way. The offense was unstoppable as Foles led his receivers perfectly and all of them – Riley Cooper, DeSean Jackson, Jeff Maehl, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and LeSean McCoy – did their part in the offensive assault.
Bryce Brown chipped in with 50 rushing yards, the offensive line dominated and the offense had an historic afternoon.
The defense chased Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor just enough to make his day miserable. The pass rush generated pressure, the tackling was outstanding and, well, when you win as the Eagles won, everything is just hunky dory.
The story of the day was Foles, who leaped into the rarified air of quarterbacks who have thrown seven touchdown passes in a single American pro football game. Foles joined Sid Luckman (Bears, 1943), Adrian Burk (Eagles, 1954), George Blanda (Houston, 1961), Y.A. Tittle (Giants, 1962), Joe Kapp (Vikings, 1969), and Peyton Manning (Broncos, 2013).
Foles now has 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in this 2013 campaign, and while there is no sense once again asking about the "quarterback-of-the-future" question, it's probably pretty reasonable to think that Foles gets the start Sunday at Green Bay.
More than anything, what Sunday demonstrated for Kelly's Eagles was what can happen when the perfect storm comes together for this team. This is a young roster, and we've seen the roaster-coaster ride that youth – and some injuries at quarterback – can inflict upon a team. There is going to be some inconsistency. On Sunday, though, there was nothing but brilliance.
The Eagles opened with a defensive stop, and then Foles and the offense took over on the Philadelphia 16-yard line. A Foles scramble gained 4 yards, and then a Todd Herremans holding penalty wiped out LeSean McCoy's run for a first down. So here was Foles, backed up at the 10-yard line, facing a second-and-16 situation with a howling O.co Stadium crowd in his ears. No matter. Foles flared a pass on the left edge for Cooper, who darted up the left sideline for 42 yards to the Oakland 48-yard line.
And the rout was on.
After an incomplete pass to Ertz and a McCoy run that lost 3 yards, Foles found Maehl over the middle for 19 yards and a first down, then had a quick completion to McCoy for 13 yards. In his groove, Foles completed a pass for 8 yards to Jackson for 8 yards to the 11-yard line and on a third-and-3 play connected with Ertz for 10 yards to the 2-yard line.
On first and goal from the 2, Foles went to Celek for the touchdown. It was the first of four consecutive touchdown drives for the Eagles and they didn't let up until the score was 49-13 midway through the fourth quarter and the chants of E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES dominated the mostly-empty stadium.
Foles, then is back on track, and his performance couldn't have come at a more opportune time. The Eagles couldn't afford to fall to 3-6 on a Sunday when both Dallas and Washington won. Sunday's tester at Green Bay is next as the Eagles again look to reach .500 with another big road win.
The future at quarterback?e I know it is the stuff of talk-radio dreams, but the chatter is mostly empty fluff. Kelly has made it clear he is in the mode of "every game is the Super Bowl," so he isn't looking past the Packers.
One thing we know: Nick Foles and the offense had the kind of game on Sunday that gets everyone excited. It was heady, sensational stuff. It was fun to watch. It was 60 minutes of what happens when the entire team plays its best game.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- The Eagles went with DeSean Jackson on punt returns and Brandon Boykin on kickoffs. Jackson avereraged 13 yards on three returns and Boykin averaged 25 yards on two returns, with a long of 41 yards. Damaris Johnson, banged up a bit, was active and ready, if needed.
- The offense rolled up 542 yards, 21 first downs and converted 4 of 10 third downs with big plays of 63 yards and 59 yards in the passing game. The average gain per offensive play: 9.5 yards.
- How much do stats really matter? Oakland had 560 total net yards of offense. How many of them were "empty" yards?
- Nine receivers caught passes, with Jackson, Cooper and Ertz leading the way with 5 each.
- Mychal Kendricks chased Pryor much of the day and had 6 total tackles. DeMeco Ryans led the way on defense with 9 total tackles. Bradley Fletcher and Connor Barwin had interceptions. The Eagles used Kendricks and, at times, Barwin to shadow Pryor and keep him in the pocket and, when the situation dictated, chase Pryor out of the pocket.
- Michael Vick was among the inactive players. Matt Barkley played half of the fourth quarter.
- Left tackle Jason Peters left the game with a pectoral injury, but Kelly said afterward that Peters could have returned, had it been needed.
- The Eagles are 4-1 on the road. Pretty amazing.
- How good were the Eagles in punt coverage? Donnie Jones had 6 punts with a 43.2-yard gross average and net average. Zero return yards on six punts. Outstanding.