Rookie Nick Foles led the Eagles on an improbable game winning drive to break their losing streak at 8 games and beat the Buccaneers 23-21 at Raymond James Stadium.
Down 21-10 with just under 6 minutes left in the game, there was every reason to believe this was over. The defense had performed its typical 2nd half meltdown and the Eagles looked ready to fold as they have every game this year. And for Eagles fans, it probably wasn't that big of a deal. Higher draft pick right?
Clearly Nick Foles doesn't care about draft picks.
Foles led the Eagles on a pair of TD drives in the final 5 minutes, the first went 8 plays for 72 yards and the second went 13 plays for 64 yards, culminating in a TD pass to Jeremy Maclin with no time left on the clock. On those 2 drives, Foles went 12-17 for 134 yards and 2 TDs. He also ran for a first on a 4th and 1.
All told, Foles went 32-51 for 381 yards and 3 TDs (1 rushing). On a day where he had zero running game, it was a pretty fantastic performance from the rookie. When you add in that it was on the road against a team fighting for the playoffs, you can't help but be impressed and more hopeful about the future.
And make no mistake about it, the development of Foles is more important than getting the 3rd overall pick instead of the 5th or 6th. This is not a year where you want to take a QB in the top 10 and if Foles really can be a solution, that's a huge head start for next season.
A few other notable performances...
- Jeremy Maclin really stepped up big in this game with a 9 catch, 104 yard performance and of course the game winning TD. He also provided the key block that led to Foles' TD run.
- Jason Avant delivered maybe his finest game as an Eagle with 7 catches for 133 yards. He also had maybe the catch of the year.
- One more Nick Foles note, he is only the 2nd Eagles rookie to ever throw for 300 yards in a game. The other was a guy named Scott Tinsley in 1987 playing a strike replacement game against Dallas. Foles has also now thrown for more yards as a rookie than Donovan McNabb.
- Bryce Brown had only 6 yards on 12 carries. The Eagles only managed 29 yards rushing as a team and it was pretty clear why the Bucs have the #1 rush defense in the NFL. They absolutely dominated the Eagles offensive line in the run game.
- Nnamdi Asomugha was just terrible today. Out-fought for a TD by Mike Williams and flat out abused by Vincent Jackson twice. Really no excuses for any of them.
The Eagles move to 4-9 with the win and now face a short week with the Bengals coming to Philadelphia for a Thursday night game.
On a final note, I do take a little bit of satisfaction seeing the Bucs choke bigtime on the day they celebrated their 2002 Super bowl victory. If you are an Eagles fan near my age, that loss to Tampa in the 2002 NFC title game still ranks as the absolute worst of your lifetime. I particularly enjoyed that shot of a dumbfounded Ronde Barber...