Nick Foles has shown consistently that the bright lights of the big stage don’t faze him.
On Sunday night in Los Angeles, his first start since Week 2, Foles delivered a season-defining performance as the Eagles upset the Rams, 30-23.
With all eyes on him and the team clinging to playoff hopes, last season’s Super Bowl MVP came through once again.
“I’m extremely proud of our team,” said Foles, who started as Carson Wentz was ruled out with a back injury on Saturday. “It was a complete team game, it was a complete team win. That’s one of the best teams in the NFL right now and they showed it. Playing against them every single play, they were bringing it. But I’m really proud of the guys for facing adversity. That’s what we preached this week.”
Foles finished the game 24-of-31 passing for 270 yards and one interception. His 77.4 percent completion percentage was the third highest of his career. He had no touchdowns as the running backs dominated in the red zone, but he commanded the offense in one of its most impressive showings this season.
The key for Foles was his fearlessness in the pocket and his utilization of all the Eagles' weapons. Eight different players were targeted and five had double-digit receiving yardage totals. The offense had arguably its most rhythmic game of the season.
"When I go out there, I'm a thrower," Foles said. "I read their body language and throw the ball up there. They made a lot of great plays. Alshon (Jeffery) went up and made a lot of great catches as well. We were able to spread the ball around and that was important."
Foles found Jeffery, who hadn’t played in a game with Foles since the Super Bowl, eight times for 160 yards. His most impressive play came when Foles took a shot from Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as he threw a pass to Jeffery behind the defense for 50 yards. The leaping grab set up a go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter for the Eagles.
"I'm pretty sure I was just seeing Ndamukong Suh and just hoping that Alshon was where he was going to be," Foles said. "It was hard to see much, I just let Alshon go make a play. That was the key.
"There were a couple times of just reading the defense and letting him get a chance. He's a great player, he's shown he can make those plays, and he made them tonight. He helped me out a lot."
Foles made just one mistake on an interception by cornerback Aqib Talib in the beginning of the fourth quarter that gave the Rams life. He took no sacks and brushed off three powerful hits from a ferocious defensive front.
But Foles played an otherwise flawless game. He said the key was trusting his teammates and staying focused on being the huddle, his “sanctuary,” with his teammates each play.
“When you step on the field, it's emotional,” Foles said. “There's a lot going on. It's Sunday Night Football, you're in LA. I think homing in on being in the huddle, not worrying about the score, not worrying about the clock, because that can affect your tendencies of reading different plays, forcing different things, and just playing.
“I really thrive in staying in the moment and just enjoying it and we'll see what happens," he added. "I really just want to enjoy the moment, being present, that's what I do and what I try to focus on daily.”
Foles said that having the experiences of last year definitely helps on big stages like Sunday’s. But he knows it’s a new season and a whole new situation. While he’s been here before, attacking this week was difficult.
“It was really emotional. You hate for your teammate to get hurt,” Foles said. “But then, you don't really know what's going to happen. You start taking reps, it's been a while, you go through the human emotions.
“I don't care what you've done in the past or what I've done in the past, it doesn't matter when you step out on that field. It's a new day. So, it was really just dealing with the emotions, prepping as hard as I could, and realizing I wasn't alone.”
With two more wins and a loss by the Vikings and Panthers, the Eagles can claim a Wild Card spot. The NFC East has not been decided yet either.
But the key for Foles’ success has always been focusing on what's happening now instead of what’s ahead. Whether or not he takes the field next week, Foles will be focused on just one play and one huddle at a time.
“I think the big thing is also we focus on the moment,” Foles said. “We don't need to worry about that. All we've got to focus on is getting back to Philly, getting our bodies right, prepping, getting back at it, and we'll see what happens.”
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' game against the Los Angeles Rams.