Good morning, Eagles fans! Merry Christmas Eve and happy Victory Monday! The Eagles kept their season alive with a heart-pounding 32-30 win over the Houston Texans that concluded with yet another last-second field goal from Jake Elliott. With a win next week in Washington and a Vikings loss (both games have been flexed to 4:25 PM next week), the Eagles will be in the playoffs as a Wild Card team. The players have the day off but head coach Doug Pederson will address the media at noon and we will carry it live. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft leading off with another legendary performance by No. 9.
1. Foles Gold
When Nick Foles went down in the end zone on the game's final drive, everyone in Philadelphia collectively held their breaths. Defensive end Chris Long joked he thought they'd bury him by his statue outside. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson yelled to him to get up. The season hung in the balance.
But Foles did get up after the monster hit from Houston linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. He reentered the game a play later to thunderous applause and chants of his name. And then, he finished another chapter in the storybook legacy of his career by leading a game-winning drive that ended in a walk-off field goal.
Foles was 35-of-49 passing for a franchise single-game record 471 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. When the Eagles needed a performance, he stepped up again. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro has more on Foles' performance and his relationship with Philadelphia after playing in the last game at home this season:
"It's emotional. I love playing in Philly," Foles said. "I knew there was a chance this could be it. I don't think about the future, but I am aware of that because this city means a lot a lot me, this team means a lot to me, wearing that jersey means a lot to me.
"This was a special one tonight. I don't know what the future holds. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to focus on now, enjoy just being in Philadelphia, enjoy the people, enjoy wearing this jersey because it's one of the most special moments of my life."
2. Elliott Comes Through Again
For the third time in two seasons, kicker Jake Elliott delivered a game-winning kick in the final seconds at Lincoln Financial Field. This one kept the Eagles' season alive for at least another week. Elliott had missed an extra point earlier in the game but didn't let it affect him. He calmly stepped up and kicked the 35-yarder that sent the Linc into a frenzy. Dave Spadaro has more on Elliott's mindset in a massive moment:
"I just try to treat it like every kick," Elliott said. "It's just a matter of staying with my routine, do what I do, and then have confidence that the best is going to happen."
3. Ertz Breaks Receptions Record
Tight end Zach Ertz led the way on offense once again yesterday as he hauled in 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. But his most significant play came early in the second half.
Ertz hauled in his 111th reception of the season, breaking his idol Jason Witten's NFL record for receptions in a season by a tight end. Ertz now has 113 and one more regular season game next week in which he can add to his history. Alex Smith writes about what holding this record means to the Eagles' Pro Bowl tight end:
"I don't think I've truly come to grips with it yet," Ertz said afterward. "One thing I do know is I'm thankful to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to be here. I'm thankful for everyone who helped me along the way. The one thing I do know is I didn't get here by myself. Jason Witten has been a huge part of this, so I think technically part of him still has the record. Brent Celek has been huge for me. There's just been so many people along the way that have helped me that I'm just eternally grateful for.
"I think it truly takes a village to become a professional athlete – my family, my wife (Julie). I'm so thankful for everyone who's helped me along the way. It is special though, having that record. Hopefully, it's something that will last a while, but if not, I'll be happy for the next guy to do it. But it is special."
4. Pederson's Confidence Pays Off
The Eagles were efficient on third down yesterday, converting on 9-of-16 tries. But even on four of those non-conversions, head coach Doug Pederson didn't waver in the aggressiveness for which he's known. The Eagles went for it on fourth down four times and converted all four times.
The first conversion was a fourth-and-one just in Houston territory and became a 37-yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles. Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles went for a fourth-and-three in the red zone and converted it. Then they faced another fourth-and-one at the goal line on the same drive and scored on a touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz. On the first possession of the second half, Foles ran a quarterback sneak on fourth down and converted.
The points that came from Pederson's confidence to roll the dice were huge Dave Spadaro writes that it shows that Pederson hasn't changed the formula that was so successful last year:
"It works for us," said Goedert. "You're out there and you want to make a play and we know that our coaching staff has the confidence in us to execute the calls. That gives us a lot of confidence."
5. Vintage Sproles
Darren Sproles was his old self on Sunday as he totaled 108 yards from scrimmage. He set the tone on offense with a 37-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-one on the Eagles' opening drive. At the end of the first half, he took an 11-yard run to set up third-and-1 and hauled in a 31-yard pass on the next play to set up a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, his 16-yard run set up the game-winning field goal.
Sproles said after the game that he was at his healthiest point of the season yesterday. In what is planned to be his final season, he is contributing right to the finish:
"It means a lot," Sproles said. "Because there was a time I thought I wasn't going to be able to come back. But to have the role I had tonight, it felt great."
6. Paving The Lane To Victory
Going in to Sunday's game, the Eagles' offensive line knew it would have its hands full with a Houston front seven including J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. To make matters worse, the line lost left tackle Jason Peters early in the game.
And yet, the line protected as Nick Foles threw for a franchise-record 471 passing yards. Right tackle Lane Johnson, who was furious at being snubbed from the Pro Bowl, faced off against Watt all day. He kept the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who entered the game with 14.5 sacks on the season silent. Alex Smith writes that in a game the Eagles needed to have, the offensive line provided a win in the toughest matchup:
"It was no different than any other week. He's the best tackle in football," said Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks. "I've said it before and I'll say it again, left tackle, right tackle, he's the best tackle in football."
The Eagles broke out the ski mask at another opportune time yesterday.
Defensive end Chris Long's strip-sack of Deshaun Watson in the fourth quarter, with a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, set up the touchdown that gave the Eagles a two-score lead late. While the Eagles did lose the turnover battle overall 3-1, their one was at a significant moment and paved the way for a victory.
And when Long put on the ski mask, the stadium went crazy:
"The ski mask felt amazing," said Long after the win. "I hadn't put on a ski mask in quite a while and I really wanted to put one on today."
"Whatever we've got to do," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "The ski masks, the dog masks, we're going to put it out there. We've come up with huge takeaways at the most clutch times that's been helping us all month and that's something we didn't do well pretty much all season. And so to turn that back up is I think one of the big reasons why we're pulling off these wins."
8. Player of the Week
Fans can vote now for who they thought stood out the most in yesterday's win. Vaughn Johnson selected three players to be considered for Player of the Week including St. Nick himself:
QB Nick Foles
Nick Foles has had some great games during his career, but his performance against the Texans was undoubtedly one of his best.
It may not have been as significant as his playoff performances from last season or his seven-touchdown game back in 2013, but it was still very impressive, as he passed for a franchise-record 471 yards and four touchdowns on 35 completions.
He now has the most passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single game in team history. Foles also has the most 400-yard passing games in franchise history.
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.