CHICAGO — At this point, long strings of fancy adjectives aren’t necessary to represent what Nick Foles is and what Nick Foles does. Brevity is the soul of Nick.
Asked after Foles led them on yet another comeback, this time in Sunday’s wild-card win over the Bears, his teammates generally shrugged, smiled and offered their terse, succinct reviews.
“Magical,” said linebacker Jordan Hicks.
There certainly was plenty of magic on what Foles did to the Bears at the end of the evening, but he lives in a magical world. This was his 11th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
It was his fifth such drive in his last 11 starts, all in the last two seasons, as Carson Wentz’s understudy. Wentz was sidelined with a knee injury during Foles' run to Super Bowl LII’s MVP. Wentz is out now with a fractured vertebra, but it’s healing. Whatever. Don’t expect him back. Not after what Big Game Nick did Sunday.
With 4 minutes, 48 seconds to play, trailing by 5 points, with the ball on the Eagles, 40, he drove them 60 total yards, 59 of them on the strength of his languid throwing motion. He connected on six of nine passes. The last one, on fourth-and-goal from the 2 — it had to be fourth down, right? — connected with Golden Tate in the end zone and gave the Eagles their 16-15 lead with 56 seconds to play.
It wasn’t the Philly Special, but it wasn’t bad.
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And wasn’t there something a little magical about how it ended, too? Cody Parkey, his former teammate, had connected on three field goals. His final try, after a long kickoff return and a long pass, seemed to graze the fingers of Treyvon Hester and drifted left, off the upright, off the crossbar and … out. Foles is a selfless teammate, a doting husband and father, a devout and genuine worshiper. Maybe good things happen to good people.
“It’s Karma,” said one Eagles official.
“Spectacular,” said right tackle Lane Johnson.
Foles’ final stat line — 25-for-40, 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions — is not, on the face of it, spectacular. But consider that he compiled those numbers against the best defense the league has seen in at least two seasons, and he did it at cold, windy Soldier Field, a place Foles called “One of the most hostile environments I’ve played in.” Consider that the Bears led the NFL with 27 interceptions. In that light, the stat line looks a lot more impressive.
“Gutsy,” said defensive end Michael Bennett.
That is, perhaps, the highest praise, considering the source. Defenders tend to admire offensive players who play hurt. Foles left the finale at Washington last week with bruised ribs. They did not affect him against the Bears.
“Hahahahaha,” Nigel Bradham said. Pause. “Greatness.”
Nick Foles has been an NFL backup for all but two of his seven seasons. But there is, in fact, a great deal of greatness about him.
He is 4-1 in five playoff games. That’s twice as many playoffs wins as Tony Romo, who might wind up in the Hall of Fame. It’s just as many playoff wins as Johnny Unitas, who’s been in the Hall of Fame for 10 years longer than Foles, 29, has been on Earth.
Foles' passer rating, 105.2, is now the best in playoff history (on Sunday, he amassed the minimum 150 postseason attempts; he has 179). Foles passed Bart Starr. So, yes; greatness.
“Ice-coooold,” said defensive tackle Tim Jernigan. Pause. “I guess that’s two words.”
We’ll allow it, because it’s perfect.
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With dead eyes and no pulse, Foles keeps cutting the hearts out of cities aching for playoff wins. First he beat Atlanta last year, a team desperate for redemption after it historically blew a 25-point lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Then Foles beat the Vikings, four-time Super Bowl losers, in the NFC Championship Game. He then outdueled Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, denying them a sixth Lombardi Trophy, which would have tied them for the most in NFL history. Sunday, the Monsters of the Midway 2.0, playoff outsiders for seven seasons, shuffled into the offseason stunned by the power of Nick.
“Resilient,” said receiver Golden Tate. He knows a bit about the topic. Tate took a wallop in the second quarter when Foles delivered a 28-yard hospital ball. Tate was still on the sideline, clutching his ribs and catching his breath, when, two plays later, Foles threw his second interception in as many series.
“The same,” said tight end Zach Ertz.
By that, he means calm. Foles was lousy at the end of the drive that preceded the game-winner. On second down, Tate was open deep against a linebacker. Foles underthrew him. On third down, Dallas Goedert was open near the sideline. Foles overthrew him.
The defense held. Foles got another chance. He was ready. His teammates could tell.
“It’s always important to be genuinely that way," Foles said. They can see through it if you’re faking it."
Foles never fakes it.
He was the same guy that led the go-ahead touchdown drive in the Super Bowl. The same guy who, in Game 15 this season, pushed the Eagles from their 11-yard line to the Texans' 17-yard line to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Jason Peters followed Foles out of the locker room. As they headed toward the postgame pizza line, Peters said to Foles:
“You’re the Magic Man.”
That about sums it up.
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