Nick Foles couldn’t move.
He had just completed a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to convert a third-and-10 play late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, and Foles couldn’t move. He had taken a helmet to the chest from Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney and a yellow penalty marker was on the ground a few yards away. Foles just stayed on his back.
“I’m looking at him, going, ‘Please get up.’ Turns out he just needed to catch his breath,” offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. “It was that kind of day, that kind of game. I think everyone was catching their breath the whole game.”
Yeah, it was that kind of game. The Eagles came from ahead, and then from behind, and finally won 32-30 thanks to a Jake Elliott last-play 35-yard field goal to move to 8-7 and keep their postseason hopes alive. The Eagles have won four of their last five games now as they head to Washington on Sunday to play the Redskins, needing some help to reach the playoffs. More on that later in the week.
For now, Sunday is the focus. And the Eagles did a ton of things right in this win. The injury-challenged secondary battled and held Texans’ superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to nine catches and 104 yards on 12 targets. The defense shut down Houston’s running game (19 carries, 62 yards – 49 from quarterback Deshaun Watson). The special teams did its part to win field position.
But the story on this day was Nick Foles. St. Nick. He missed one play after that big hit – Nate Sudfeld came in and threw an incomplete pass – and then Foles re-entered the game to thunderous applause and finished off the drive by securing the must-win.
Foles ended the afternoon completing 35 of 49 passes for an Eagles single-game record of 471 yards and four touchdowns, along with an interception. He averaged a whopping 9.42 yards per passing attempt (including one quarterback sack). Along the way, Foles compiled a passer rating of 120.4 and, oh by the way, led the Eagles on an 11-play, 72-drive drive in the final 2:04 to win the game on Jake Elliott’s 35-yard field goal.
Foles! Foles! Foles!
“He was great today,” said Jeffery, who caught three passes for 82 yards including that third-down reception on the final drive. “That’s just Nick being Nick.”
The game plan on Sunday was to throw the football and attack a Houston secondary that had some holes that became larger with injuries heading into the game and a couple that happened in Sunday’s back-and-forth outing. Right from the start, Foles was on his game. He went 7-for-9 on a first-possession drive that ended with a swing pass to Darren Sproles on fourth down that Sproles turned into a 37-yard touchdown play. And the game ended with Foles in command, calmly directing an offense that converted big plays like a completion to Jeffery for 19 yards on a third-and-10 play from the Eagles’ 11-yard line and a pretty 20-yard throw to record-setting tight end Zach Ertz on the right side to put the ball in Elliott’s range at the end of the game.
In between, Foles threw four touchdown passes, including two to Ertz and a gorgeous 83-yard strike to wide receiver Nelson Agholor that gave the Eagles a 23-16 lead in the third quarter.
“The throw was perfect,” Agholor said. “I mean, he put it right where it had to be. He put it in perfect position and all I had to do was run and catch it. Nick did the work.”
Foles has brought his trademark calm and poise to an offense that has now scored 30 or more points in consecutive games for the first time this season. He’s spreading the football around – nine players caught passes on Sunday – and Foles is stretching the field with the deep pass. Foles had five completions against Houston of 31 or more yards.
The Eagles rolled up a season-best 519 total net yards and converted 9 of 16 third downs and all four fourth downs they attempted.
It was a marvelous offensive show, starting with No. 9.
Foles! Foles! Foles!
“Nick played lights out for us,” center Jason Kelce said. “This is a guy that wants to win. He’s a competitor and makes some incredible plays.”
For his part, Foles was his usual humble self after the game, spreading credit across the board and deflecting attention. He’s so at peace with himself off the field and it shows when he’s taking snaps and facing a big pass rush, which the Texans have and the Eagles' offensive line and tight ends and backs negated with a terrific scheme combined with solid blocking. And at the end, with the offense on the field and needing points, Foles delivered with his usual calm.
“The big thing I talked to the guys about was just being in the moment,” Foles said. “When we’re in the huddle, that’s all you worry about. Just worry about that play. You can’t do it all at once, just focus on that play and trust each other. It was calm in the huddle. I mean, there’s chaos going all around, but we’re able to keep it calm in the huddle. That’s important in a game like that especially when you’re going down in a two-minute drill to win a game where it’s been back and forth and it’s been a battle.
“You know everyone did a great job executing that last drive.”
When it was done, Foles acknowledged feeling something about Sunday possibly being his last game at Lincoln Financial Field as an Eagle. He’s got another year left on his contract, but with a reported salary of $20 million, it’s tough to see the Eagles carrying that number for a backup quarterback. It’s one of the many offseason decisions the Eagles have to make.
“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.”
Take a look at the best photos from the Eagles' Week 16 matchup against the Houston Texans.