David Banks/Associated Press
We keep waiting for the wheels to fall off the Nick Foles carriage. But they don’t. Foles instead has added some rims to it. Some hydraulics. And the Nick Foles carriage is now a sweet ride—built like a tank but rolls smooth like a Lexus.
He was supposed to lose early in the playoffs last year. He didn’t. He was supposed to get obliterated in the NFC title game last year. He won. He was supposed to lose to the greatest coach-quarterback duo ever in last year’s Super Bowl. Hell to the nah.
We keep waiting for Foles to crumble, but instead, his onions get bigger and his victories keep stacking up. This time, on Sunday, it was beating the Bears at home 16-15 in a crazy wild-card game. Foles magic—and a missed field goal—ended the Bears’ 12-win season and sent the 9-7 Eagles to play the Saints next.
Maybe the game will be remembered most for the 43-yard field-goal try that didn’t just hit the upright; it hit the upright and the crossbar. But before that was more Foles doing Foles things—a touchdown throw to Golden Tate to put the Eagles ahead and on their way to 4-0 in their past four playoff games (all with Foles as QB) and 4-0 in their past four games overall since he took back over the starting job from the injured Carson Wentz.
And besides, only in Foles’ unicornian world do you get a double-doink. In fact, unicorns wear necklaces with the face of Nick Foles on them.
Jeff Pearlman @jeffpearlman
The funniest moment of our afternoon is watching @ChicagoBears mascot reaction after missed FG. Loss stings, but give that mammal a raise … https://t.co/t3rVN7V31C
The Legend of Nick Foles just grows and grows, and we all watch in utter amazement.
“No one loses faith,” said Foles to NBC’s Michele Tafoya after the game. “No one stops believing.”
Little seems to stop him—even controversial officiating seeming to break his way. Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller made what looked to be a catch and fumble late in the first half, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass, and the NFL said on social media that because there was no clear recovery by anyone, rules state it had to be incomplete. The Bears had to settle for a field goal.
This is just what seems to happen in these spots with Foles. Events and circumstances favor him. Sometimes it’s luck. A bad call. A missed field goal. Most of the time it’s something he does—a perfect throw here, an excellent read a play later. It’s always something.
The defense has also played better. Is that Foles? Not really. Or maybe it is. We can’t rule anything out. Foles is the tide that lifts all players, and it cannot be overstated how much belief matters in a locker room. The Eagles believe in him the way a young child believes in his momma’s embrace.
Before we go further into the overall growing legend of Foles, though, two specific Folesian things from the latest chapter have to be mentioned.
First, Foles has continued to re-energize Alshon Jeffery. Their chemistry looks special. Jeffery had six catches for 82 yards against Chicago. He had gone six straight games without more than 50 receiving yards before Foles took back over, and he’s got 160, 82, 59 and 82 since.
Second, Foles threw the winning touchdown to Golden Tate, who has been quiet since the Eagles traded a third-rounder for him in October. That transaction paid off in a big way.
Philadelphia Eagles @Eagles
Game on the line, fourth down, @NickFoles to @ShowtimeTate. FOR. THE. WIN.
And then there was the last drive. The one that would prove to be the game-winner. It was beautiful to watch—the kind of drive we’re used to seeing Tom Brady or Joe Montana run. Not just calmness and confidence, but also well-executed throws.
The Eagles started the drive down 15-10 at their own 40 with less than five minutes left. Foles completed six of his nine pass attempts on the drive for 59 yards—all but one of the yards between their starting point and the end zone coming in the air. And his six completions were to five different targets, the last a two-yard touchdown pass to Tate that was put in a spot where only Tate could get it.
No, Foles wasn’t perfect, and the Philadelphia defense deserves much of the credit for the win, for stifling the Bears for much of the game. His stats weren’t mind-blowing: 25-of-40 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the first of his five career playoff games that he had a passer rating below 100.
But with Foles, it’s less about stats and more about belief.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
And about winning.
That’s where Foles’ legend is growing. He now has two game-winning fourth-quarter drives in the past two years. Since 2013, the only quarterbacks with that many (via Pro Football Reference) are Tom Brady (four), Russell Wilson (three) and Aaron Rodgers (also two). That’s quite a group to be a part of.
There’s nothing lucky or glitchy about what Foles is doing. It’s who he is.
We will probably stupidly keep waiting for the Foles magic to end, and maybe it will next week in New Orleans. The Eagles have opened as big underdogs, the largest spread so far of the divisional games, according to OddsShark. So the oddsmakers are already counting out Foles.
Yes, they keep saying, the Foles magic will end. At some point. Right?
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.