Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles savors unlikely accomplishment
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons in NFC Divisional Round
Gallery: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons in NFC Divisional Round
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles shared publicly this fall that he contemplated retirement in his mid-20s after a trying stint with the Rams in 2015, which came as a shock to plenty of football fans.
But perhaps more surprising is the situation Foles finds himself in now.
Roughly three years after the Eagles traded him, two seasons after he sputtered in St. Louis and one month after Philadelphia’s MVP candidate Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a game against the Rams (ironically enough), Foles stands as the starting quarterback for a Birds team headed to the NFC Championship Game. It’s been an intense, stunning and difficult journey for the 28-year-old quarterback.
And the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons on Saturday offers a moment he can relish.
Foles completed 23 of 30 passes in the game for 246 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was far from spectacular. But he was plenty good enough to push the Eagles’ to their most important win in nine seasons and to produce one of the top highlights of his career two years after he considered ending it.
“I feel like every person goes through moments in their life where it’s a big decision moment, and that was it for me,” Foles said of the time he thought about retiring. “I’m glad I went through it. And I said in my interview earlier, that I’m a better person, better player, better father, better husband because of what I went through and having to decide that because I decided that with my family.”
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Foles made a Pro Bowl with the Eagles as a second-year player in 2013 but showed signs of damaging struggles the next year. Philadelphia traded the 6-foot-6 pocket passer in the 2015 offseason to St. Louis, where Foles flopped, flailed and lost his starting job with the Rams.
The season playing under coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis sapped Foles of his enthusiasm for the game, he said. He thought about quitting football and spending more time with his wife.
But when Foles’ first NFL head coach, Andy Reid, offered him a job as the Chiefs’ backup quarterback last season, he decided to go play for a familiar face. He enjoyed being around Reid and Kansas City starter Alex Smith, and this past offseason, Foles entered free agency rejuvenated.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson was Foles’ first NFL quarterbacks coach when he was on Reid’s staff in Philly in 2012, and Foles was up for another reunion. He signed with the Eagles this spring to be Wentz’s backup.
Fast forward to Saturday, and Foles was back in Lincoln Financial Field, once again at the helm of an Eagles offense. It was an opportunity Foles never thought he’d get. And he insisted he wasn’t concerned with the hoards of stories and broadcasts criticizing his play over the past few weeks or the experts who soured on the Eagles’ title chances after Wentz’s injury.
“In any sporting situation where you are doing something on a big stage, there is going to be criticism,” Foles said. “That will always be there. But we blocked that out. You are aware of it because you are human, but we blocked it out and we just went to work.”
The work the Eagles did Saturday was grueling and admirable. A sloppy start in cold and gusty conditions put the team in a hole, but Foles improved his play in the second half, leading a couple scoring drives as the defense held firm.
Foles become a father for the first time this summer, and he said his daughter, Lily, was in attendance Saturday. And after Philadelphia’s final stand clinched a thrilling victory, Foles said he was eager to go see his 6-month-old and the rest of his family.
But first he had to stand at a podium and answer questions about the path he took away from stardom in Philly and then back to it.
“Honestly, it’s unbelievable to win this game,” Foles said, “and we are not finished.”
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