PLAYER OF THE WEEK: After tossing 7 TDs, Nick Foles thinks an encore is simply to improve
PHILADELPHIA – Nick Foles finished off perhaps the best statistical performance by a quarterback in NFL history and spent the final quarter watching the Philadelphia Eagles complete their rout of Oakland from the sideline.
He didn't lobby coach Chip Kelly to put him in to try for an eighth touchdown pass, and then he gave everyone else the credit for his sensational effort. Foles is a team player in every sense, a backup worthy of starting who finally may get the No. 1 job.
"It's something special for the Philadelphia Eagles organization," Foles said after becoming just the seventh player to throw seven TD passes in Philadelphia's 49-20 win over the Raiders. "We were able to spread the ball around, but you've got to look at the key components that lead to it — the o-line blocking, guys running great routes, making huge catches. It's a special moment for the organization, but it's special for all our teammates."
As a result, Foles earned himself a spot in Canton. The Pro Football Hall of Fame requested his game-worn jersey and cleats to display in their museum.
"It's a great honor," Foles said. "But, like I've said before, when I reflect on that stuff, I think about the guys I did it with, and that's most special to me. The memories I made with them, seeing everybody really happy, having the time to throw it, the receivers downfield making tremendous plays, running after the catch, all the stuff that went together, that's what I think about."
The short list of players who've thrown seven TD passes in a game includes Peyton Manning, who did it against Baltimore in this year's season opener. Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle and Joe Kapp did it between 1943-69.
Foles, Manning and Tittle are the only ones to throw seven TDs without an interception. Foles is the only one of the group to have more TDs than incomplete passes.
Yet Foles didn't even get a public guarantee that he'll start when the Eagles (4-5) visit Green Bay (5-3) on Sunday. Foles only played against the Raiders because Michael Vick was sidelined by a left hamstring injury that has forced him to miss three full games and halves of two others. Though Vick still isn't practicing in team drills, Kelly wouldn't even commit to Foles by midweek.
"Nick is starting in practice today," Kelly said, refusing to divulge more information.
Foles, a third-round pick who went 1-5 as a starter last year for the 4-12 Eagles, lost a training-camp competition for the No. 1 job. He replaced Vick late in the second quarter of a win at the New York Giants on Oct. 6 and played well. He was NFC Player of the Week after leading the Eagles to a win at Tampa Bay the next game.
But Foles took a major step backward in a 17-3 loss to Dallas in Week 7. He was 11 of 29 for 80 yards before suffering a concussion at the end of the third quarter.
The dismal showing left people wondering if Foles could handle the pressure of a big game. Coaches and teammates stuck by him, and he rewarded their faith with a game for the ages.
Foles completed 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards, no interceptions and had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against Oakland. He had seven TDs before the end of the third quarter, played two more series and sat out the final 13 minutes.
"Nick works hard, does everything right, on and off the field," safety Nate Allen said. "Couldn't be happier for somebody to have a great day like that. He's a heck of a quarterback and it showed."
It may have seemed that Foles was flawless, but the second-year pro is a perfectionist. He wasn't happy with the six incompletions and even some passes he connected on didn't satisfy him.
"On the quick screen, I can get the ball out (faster and with more velocity)," Foles said. "I didn't carry out all my run fakes. I have to make sure I carry out all those run fakes. I can even be quicker with some throws, maybe move in the pocket instead of rolling, like stepping up and getting out. There are just different things I see. I can't worry about that when I play. I just have to play naturally, but that's stuff I work on (in practice).
"And there are things I did well that I have to continue to work on. I can't just say, 'Oh, OK, I did that well one game, it's going to happen every game.' I have to keep working on it, doing the same stuff and then tweaking it along the way to make sure I keep getting better — quicker foot speed, getting to the target, keeping my left shoulder down, trajectory on the deep ball, different things like that. That's why I love this game, and that's why I come to work every day."
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