“He wanted that last play,” said Reid of rookie quarterback Nick Foles. “He called it, he wanted it and he executed it.”
Foles called it?
“He came off and he wanted that play. So yeah,” said Reid. “It was a game that we had in the game plan in that situation and that’s the one he liked the best. He was feeling it. Hey listen, it’s a great thing when your quarterback is in tune like that. When he came off he said, ‘Hey, I’m feeling this right here.’ And you saw Marty [Mornhinweg] give him the high five, that’s what that was all about. He just goes, ‘Hey, that’s an awesome deal.’ That was a great feeling right there. I am proud of the kid.”
It was second-and-goal from the 1 1/2 yard-line, two seconds on the clock and the Eagles down 21-16. Foles rolled to his right and found Jeremy Maclin by the right sideline on an out. There were two celebrations — one immediately following the play, and one after an officials review confirmed that it was a touchdown.
“I just like a movement play in that situation because it changes throwing lanes,” said Foles. “If you’re in the pocket a guy can undercut it, whereas if you’re on the run there’s no undercut. It just felt good. It was the first play that came in my head.”
The touchdown toss capped a 13-play, 64-yard drive that started with 2:44 left on the clock. It was far from uneventful. Foles and his teammates were on the high wire, forced to come up with one third-down conversion and a pair of fourth-down conversions to keep their hopes alive.
Facing a third-and 14 from their own 32, Foles stepped away from the Tampa pass rush (he was under duress all day– the Bucs piling up six sacks and 13 QB hits) and finding Maclin for a 23-yard gain. He picked up a first down on a 4th-and-1 with a three-yard scramble later in the drive, and overcame a 4th-and-5 with a 22-yard dart over the middle to Jason Avant.
“Nick came over to me on the sideline and I said, ‘Just put your head down and keep playing,’” said Avant, who broke out with seven grabs for 133 yards.
Foles spiked the ball with two seconds on the clock and Tampa decided to take a timeout, which Foles said settled the team. It also gave him an opportunity to tell the coaches exactly what he wanted.
“Nick came over during the timeout,” said Mornhinweg, “and said, ‘I want that one.’ Boom.”
Foles ended the night 32-of-51 for 381 yards with three touchdowns (two throwing, one rushing) and no turnovers. His team down 21-10, he led the charge as the Eagles put up 13 points in the final 3:55.
With the Eagles officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday despite the win, optimism can only come in projections about the future. Foles made that far-away place seem a little closer with his performance Sunday.
“He has the potential to be a special quarterback in this league,” said Maclin. “He’s growing up right in front of our eyes.”
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