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Nick Foles Knows Challenge Vs. NFL's No. 1 Defense


Quarterback Nick Foles met the media on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex and was not asked a single question about his level of confidence heading into Sunday's NFC Championship Game against Minnesota at Lincoln Financial Field.

What a difference a week, and a 23-of-30 passing performance in a 15-10 win over Atlanta, makes.

Instead, Foles answered questions about the No. 1-ranked Minnesota defense and the idea that a win on Sunday catapults the Eagles to Super Bowl LII.

"The big thing with them, they've been together for a while," Foles said of the Vikings' defense. "They play fast. You don't see them bust coverages. They communicate back and forth really well and they're on the same page. It's hard to key in on one thing or the other.

"First off, they have a lot of talent. They have a lot of talented guys, whether it's the corners, the secondary, the D-line, the linebackers. They're a lot of speed. I've been really impressed watching them on tape."

Foles, the subject of intense scrutiny after replacing the injured Carson Wentz in the Eagles' offense in the second half of the December 10 win at the Los Angeles Rams, stepped up against Atlanta's defense last week. After a slow start, Foles got into gear in the passing game and did just enough to lead the team to the victory.

For a guy who was a third-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2012 and Offensive MVP of the Pro Bowl a season later after throwing 27 touchdown passes and two interceptions and then was traded to St. Louis and dumped after a season there, had a year of reclamation in Kansas City, and then signed with the Eagles last spring, the ride has been a bumpy one.

There aren't many who understand the ups and downs as intimately as Foles.

"It's been a crazy journey. We're blessed to be in this game," Foles said. "It's been a wild ride this season. We've had so many things go on, so many guys step up, so many injuries – the guys who have been injured have done an amazing job of staying around the building and doing a huge job of being the heartbeat of this team. … I really focus on that, and when you step on the field we're always playing for each other.

"That's our strength as a team. We're playing for the guy next to us, playing for the guys who got injured, and we're playing for the city."

One challenge the Eagles' offense faces is converting on third down. Minnesota ranked first in the NFL this season in third-down defense, allowing just a 25-percent conversion rate. The Eagles did a good job against Atlanta on first and second downs, allowing them to convert 6 of 13 third downs.

If they come close to that number this week, the offense will be in great shape.

"I think the big thing with them, like I said, they play real fast," Foles said. "Watching them on film, when they communicate, when they check, when teams are doing different formations and different shifts, they have a really good game plan for that moment. They do a great job of film study. … They're not thinking; they're reacting. The second the ball is completing, they're shooting to it and making tackles really quick. They do a really good job of limiting YAC (yards after catch) yards."

Check out photos from the Eagles' January 17 practice at the NovaCare Complex. The team is preparing to take on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

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