‘Let’s Make Them Pay For This’
All hell broke loose early in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
An already chippy game devolved into a flat-out melee after Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker crushed Nick Foles on an interception return, drawing the ire of Jason Peters.
“I got up off the ground and I saw Jason in a sprint after somebody and I was like, ‘Oh, no. This isn’t good,'” said Todd Herremans. “But I just think he was doing what he gets paid to do: protect Nick.
“I thought about stepping in the way, but I just would have gotten murdered.”
Peters went after Baker with a quick open-handed strike to the face. Chaos ensued along the Washington sideline as Foles writhed in pain just feet away.
“I thought the guy was down so that’s why I wasn’t looking for anyone,” said Foles. “The next thing I know I’m just obliterated.
“The doctors were assessing what was going on and making sure I was OK. I could hear some whistles blowing and some guys going over there. I had an idea that there was something going on but I had no clue what it was.”
The sequence all started when Foles’ pass for Brent Celek missed the mark and was seemingly intercepted by Bashaud Breelend. Ryan Clark nailed Celek while the tight end was on the ground. But that was just the beginning of it. As Breeland made his way down the left sideline, an unsuspecting Foles, drifting towards the play, was demolished by Baker. That sparked a team-on-team scrum that took some time to break apart. Once body was separated from body, the refs ejected both Baker and Peters from the game.
“I saw Nick on the ground and that’s really all you need to see,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “Whenever your quarterback is on the ground, you have to defend him. That’s what we hang our hat on. That’s our pride and joy. We can’t let cheap shots or anything happen to him.”
“I ran over there. I’m never going to hang my teammates out to dry,” said Brandon Boykin. “Definitely wanted to make sure we were protected and if people were really scuffling I wanted to make sure nothing serious happened if I could help it.”
Foles eventually got to his feet to the delight of a crazed Eagles fan base.
Turns out, it wasn’t an interception at all. The ball bounced before Breeland got it. The Eagles retained possession and Foles stayed in the game. Typically calm and even-keeled, the players inside the huddle immediately following the incident saw a different side of Foles.
“Nick was fired up. Good to see. Good to see your quarterback get fired up,” said Herremans. “[He said]: Let’s go make them pay for this.”
And they did.
Foles went on to engineer an eight-play, 76-yard scoring drive that broke a 27-27 stalemate. The quarterback kept the drive alive with a 17-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin along the right sideline. (The play was initially ruled an incompletion before being overturned.) Two plays later, Foles found Maclin for a 27-yard touchdown strike.
Fueled by the illegal hit on Foles and the episode that ensued, the Eagles outlasted the Redskins and improved to 3-0.
“After that play, the fire…it was already lit,” said Jenkins. “It didn’t take much for us to get going after that.
“For [Foles] to drive down and make plays, it was encouraging. It let us know that he wasn’t going to flinch or fold at any time, so who are we to?”
Foles ended the game 28-of-42 for 325 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 113.7 quarterback rating.
“He did a great job of getting back up and showing his heart, showing his resilience,” said Cary Williams. “He was showing his leadership, and that is all you can ask for.”