At various times during the Eagles’ wild 16-15 wild card victory over the Bears in Chicago yesterday, Nick Foles was not at his best.
The Eagles had just three points at halftime and Foles had thrown two interceptions, one of them a grossly bad decision into quadruple coverage, both of which took at least six points off the board. He had made some excellent throws during the game as well, but this wasn’t Foles at the top of his game.
And hey, against the best defense in the NFL, it was to be expected that he wouldn’t light the city up. But once again, in the 4th quarter when it mattered most, Nick Foles came through in the clutch. With the Birds down 15-10, Foles executed a game-winning, 12-play, 60-yard scoring drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate on 4th and goal with 0:56 remaining to give the Eagles yet another improbable postseason victory.
Game on the line, fourth down, @NickFoles to @ShowtimeTate. FOR. THE. WIN.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/TjRZX0vgWQ— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 7, 2019
On that drive, he made huge throws to Alshon Jeffrey over the middle, a terrific slight-of-hand toss to Dallas Goeddert that the rookie turned into another key first down, a sweet pass into the flat to Nelson Agholor that the wideout turned into a big 8-yard gain, a key strike to Zach Ertz over the middle that the tight end skied to grab between two defenders, and then finally the monster TD throw to Tate.
Yes, his teammates helped him out by making some huge individual plays, but it was Foles who led the drive and delivered the ball with confidence, all things we’ve grown accustomed to seeing during his last two seasons in Philadelphia. After the game, the unassuming Birds’ back-up said, “We saw some adversity tonight in the first half. I had a couple of turnovers. I think the big thing is that no one loses faith, no one stops believing, everyone just keeps talking, keeps believing in one another, and we just rallied.”
The reason no one loses faith and no one stops believing in each other is because Nick Foles is clutch. And he’s writing his name into the NFL history books in the process.
The word “clutch” gets thrown around a lot in sports. There are players in every sport who are perceived to be “clutch” when the game is on the line and championships are at stake. In baseball, David Ortiz and Derek Jeter were renowned for their ability to deliver big hits and make big defensive plays during crunch time. In the NBA, Michael Jordan and LeBron James have obviously won titles thanks to coming through in the clutch. And in the NFL, QBs like Joe Montana and Tom Brady have more 4th quarter comebacks than anyone can remember.
After what he’s shown the last two years, Nick Foles has to be added to this group, and it’s not just narrative. The numbers back it up.
- Sunday’s game-winning drive against Chicago was his 2nd career fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive in the postseason. The other was the 14-play, 75-yard drive late in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 52 against the Patriots that resulted in Zach Ertz’ 11-yard touchdown.
- Foles has thrown multiple TDs in three straight playoff games, tied with Donovan McNabb for the longest streak in Eagles postseason history. Overall, he has recorded two ore more passing TDs in four of his five career playoff games.
- On 3rd and 4th down yesterday, Foles completed 8-of-11 (72.7%) attempts for 79 yards, with 1 TD, 0 INTs and a 122.9 passer rating (and that doesn’t include his Philly Special TD RECEPTION on 4th down in the Super Bowl).
- In his postseason career on 3rd and 4th downs, Foles is 40-for-52 (77%) for 522 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs, for a 146.5 rating.
- During Doug Pederson’s tenure as head coach, the Eagles have converted all four 4th down attempts in the playoffs — all of them with Foles either throwing or receiving the football.
- Over his last four games (since Week 15), he’s gone 38-of-46 (82.6%) for 431 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT and a 132.9 passer rating on 3rd and 4th down.
- In his playoff career, Foles has a 4-1 record with a 69.8% completion percentage, 10 TDs, 3 INTs and a passer rating of 105.2.
- Among quarterbacks with at least 150 passing attempts (73 qualified QBs), Foles’ 105.3 rating is the best of all time. Better than Bart Starr’s 104.8, Kurt Warner’s 102.8, Matt Ryan’s 100.8 and Drew Brees’ 100.7).
- Nick Foles is now 3-0 when trailing in the 2nd half over the last two playoff runs. All other QBs during that time are 4-15.
Oh and there’s this.
Nick Foles has beaten the No. 1 scoring defense in consecutive postseasons (2018 Bears, 2017 Vikings).— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) January 7, 2019
John Elway (1997-98) and Joe Montana (1988-89) are the only other QBs since the 1970 merger to do that.
Foles now officially the leader in playoff passing DVOA since 1986 (min. 150 passes).— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) January 6, 2019
And one more.
In 25 years of @pfref’s Game Play Finder, this was first time ever a QB threw a come-from-behind GW TD pass in the playoffs on 4th down w <1 min left in 4Q. And Nick Foles did it vs. #1 D in NFL. It’s just what he does. He wins football games. #Eagles— Cody Swartz (@cbswartz5) January 7, 2019
And lest anyone forgot, HE CALLED THE PHILLY SPECIAL IN THE SUPER BOWL. It was HIS IDEA.
It’s really unbelievable, and the magic shows no signs of slowing down. Foles’ ability to remain placid in situations that shake most mere mortals to their core is truly special.
.@NickFoles is almost too cool under pressure according to his head coach pic.twitter.com/ceEzDzaY1p— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 7, 2019
Even in Foles’ lone playoff loss back in 2014, he took over at his own 23-yard-line with 7:59 to go in the 4th quarter of a game he trailed 23-17 and led the team on a 77-yard TD drive to give the Eagles a 24-23 lead.
The fact Foles that is doing all this despite being the team’s back-up QB is unprecedented in NFL history. According to Elias, Nick is the first QB ever to win a playoff game in consecutive seasons despite starting five or fewer games in the regular season each year.
This year, after Carson Wentz was diagnosed with a back fracture, Foles beat the 13-3 Los Angeles Rams, the 11-5 Houston Texans and now the 12-4 Chicago Bears. There were no cupcakes there, and frankly, all were playoff games. Had the Eagles lost any of those contests, they wouldn’t have made the postseason, and two of those games were on the road, too.
The legend of Foles is clearly taking the NFL by storm at this point, and he’s proved it’s no fluke.
"There might be no QB I'd rather have IN NFL HISTORY in a big moment than @NickFoles."— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 7, 2019
At this point, how can you not believe in him ♂️
: @gmfb | #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/3sKBlxZJBU
If you are doubting Foles can go into New Orleans and knock off the No. 1 seed Saints in the Divisional Round, you simply haven’t been paying attention. Despite being a 9-point underdog in many books, you would be a fool to think the Eagles have no shot at the Superdome next Sunday afternoon.
After yet another clutch performance, Nick Foles has made a believer out of everyone, and there’s no reason to think one of the clutchest players in NFL history won’t do it all again.