OAKLAND -- Nick Foles has a 24-hour rule. One day after every game, win or loss, dazzling or dubious, he forgets all of it.
Control-alt-delete. Start over.
Twenty-four hours after the quarterback’s epic flop against Dallas two Sundays ago, one that branded him a choke artist, Foles had already moved beyond what was maybe the worst performance by an Eagles quarterback ever.
And 24 hours after Sunday’s record-breaking performance against the Raiders at O.co Coliseum in a 49-20 win (see Instant Replay), Foles will just as easily put the history behind him.
Seems impossible, right? Not really, Foles said.
After all, he had no idea that he had become just seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw seven touchdowns and just the third to do it without an interception (see story), until after coach Chip Kelly removed him from the blowout early in the fourth quarter.
“Because you just try to stay steady,” Foles said. “You just want to keep going. No matter if you do good, bad or whatever, you just try to forget about the last play and keep grinding. I didn’t want to lose the mentality that I started the game with, so I had no clue how many touchdowns I had thrown or anything.”
What to make of Nick Foles?
Two weeks ago, wrestling with the concept of supplanting an injured Michael Vick, Foles put forth the worst clunker of his fledgling career. He passed for just 80 yards and completed only 11 passes. He missed receivers left and right, long and short. He exited at the end of the third after suffering a concussion.
Naturally, people believed the moment had overwhelmed him, that he didn’t have the makeup to be the franchise cornerstone.
Two weeks later, in another now-or-never showcase, Foles looked superhuman. He passed for 406 yards and slung touchdowns all over the field, seven in total, as the Eagles generated 542 yards of total offense.
How could this be the same guy?
“You always have to watch the film, see what you did wrong,” Foles said. “And I was like, I saw the things I did wrong and I know that I could fix them if I worked on them in practice, studying them on film. That’s where the 24-hour rule comes in handy.”
Foles closed the book on the Dallas disaster about 20 minutes into the game. Already up 14-0 on his first two possessions, which ended in touchdowns to Brent Celek and Riley Cooper, he stepped up and found Cooper again on the very next snap.
Sixty-three yards later, Foles had thrown touchdown No. 3 and the Eagles were up 21-3 with 11:17 still to go in the first half.
Then came the oddest of football contradictions. The more passes he completed, the faster went Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense. And the faster the offense moved, the more the game slowed down for the second-year quarterback.
“I understood everything we were trying to do,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to make too many plays. Obviously, there’s going to be times when big plays need to be made, but I was trying to do what I did all week in practice and carry it onto the field.”
Foles didn’t revel in the moment, grab a piece of turf from O.co Coliseum or wag an I-told-you-so finger to the media. He did what most quarterbacks do: He credited teammates and shared praise.
“We had a great week of practice as a team. I thought the guys came out and did a great job today,” he said. “Receivers did a great job downfield making plays. I had time to throw. With all that together, it was a great team win. We suffered two defeats recently and our offense sputtered. It was good to get back on track. We just got to keep building on it.”
He’ll get that chance.
After the game, Kelly said Michael Vick is making progress from his hamstring injury but couldn’t have played against Oakland. It would be the shock of the century if Kelly didn’t go with Foles next Sunday in Green Bay.
It’ll be a chance for Foles to keep pushing the pedal as Kelly looks for a long-term solution at quarterback, keep supplying the pressure like he did in the second half, tossing three more touchdowns to keep building on the lead.
Foles threw touchdowns on his first two drives of the third quarter, a 25-yard swing pass to LeSean McCoy and a 46-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson, then responded from a three-and-out to hit Cooper one last time, a five-yard touchdown that provided the knockout uppercut.
“It’s a long game,” he said. “You don’t want to try to get ahead of yourself. There’s been so many times I started the game and gone right down and scored a touchdown and then we don’t score a touchdown for a little while and then you’ve just got to keep going.
“It’s just one of those things. You really never know, because what happens when you do well is they’re gonna adjust, so you’ve just got to keep firing and be smart with it. That’s where the preparation comes in and being on the same page.”