Foles stays humble after record-tying day

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles throws to receiver DeSean Jackson, who scored on a 46-yard catch in the third quarter at Oakland. Foles said he hadn't counted his touchdown passes.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles throws to receiver DeSean Jackson, who scored on a 46-yard catch in the third quarter at Oakland. Foles said he hadn't counted his touchdown passes. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 05, 2013

OAKLAND, Calif. - He had no idea. Think about that. Touchdown after touchdown, seven in all, as many as any quarterback has ever thrown in a National Football League game, and still he had no idea what he had done, had no idea that he had made history, until his coach told him there was no need for him to do anything more.

It was only after Chip Kelly had removed Nick Foles from the Eagles' 49-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders that the quarterback's teammates revealed to him the awesome nature of his performance Sunday: His seven touchdown passes had tied an NFL record, this had gone beyond the typical big win for a team and a quarterback in need of one, and everyone at O.co Coliseum had seen something transcendent.

"You just try to stay steady," Foles said. "No matter if you're doing good or bad or whatever, you try to forget about the last play and keep grinding. I didn't want to lose my mentality that I started the game with."

Here's how many other NFL quarterbacks have accomplished what Foles accomplished Sunday: six. One is a household name: Peyton Manning. Four are familiar to those with a deep appreciation for football history: Sid Luckman, George Blanda, Joe Kapp, and Y.A. Tittle. One was an Eagle: Adrian Burk, who did it in 1954 against the Washington Redskins at the long-since-razed Griffith Stadium.

There's a sign in the team's offices commemorating Burk's achievement. "I walk by it every time," Kelly said.

And now, Foles. He'd had no sense during the game of the scope of it all, he said. He hadn't counted the touchdowns or even bothered to think about how they had come about. He threw short ones and long ones. He threw four to two wide receivers (Riley Cooper three times and DeSean Jackson once) and two to two tight ends (Brent Celek and Zach Ertz) and one to a running back (LeSean McCoy). He attempted 28 passes and completed 22, for 406 yards, a perfect passer rating of 158.3, and the distinction of throwing fewer incompletions than he did touchdowns.

All those touchdowns, from a player who technically isn't the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback. Foles had stepped in for Michael Vick last month after Vick injured his hamstring and led the team to back-to-back victories. But two weeks ago, in a disheartening loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Foles had played terribly, as if a fog were clouding his vision and his mind - and that was before he suffered a concussion that forced him from that game and prevented him from suiting up for the next one.

The Dallas game had offered such profound possibilities for the Eagles and Foles - a chance for them to assume first place in their division, a chance for him to establish himself as a bona fide franchise quarterback - and he had failed to meet the magnitude of the moment.

"Sometimes, you're going to have bad games, and they're tough to deal with," he said. "But you always have to watch the film and see what you did wrong."

What he saw was a quarterback who, for whatever reason, had forgotten his fundamentals, had stopped following through on his throwing motion and started spraying passes to places where no receiver could catch them.

It had been easy, after that Dallas loss, to dismiss Foles as a viable option for the Eagles beyond this season, to presume they would try to find a more promising prospect in next year's NFL draft. But Foles corrected those flaws, for one week at least, and now he has changed everything again, adding an element of mystery to the Eagles' present and future.

They are 4-5, still in the playoff hunt. Will Foles be their starter for the rest of this season? Kelly was coy, saying the answer would come down to Vick's and Foles' health. But even if Vick (who was inactive Sunday) was healthy enough to play next week against the Green Bay Packers, would Kelly really bench a quarterback who just threw seven touchdowns in a single game?

"You never know," Foles said. "That's why you've always got to be hungry to get better."

He had wound through the bowels of the stadium by now - a green Eagles baseball cap on his head, his duffel bag slung over his right shoulder - on his way to see his father, Larry, before boarding the team bus. All those touchdowns Sunday, all that history, and the last thing Nick Foles said before he left the building was, "There are always things to get better."


msielski@phillynews.com

@MikeSielski

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