This was the day when Nick Foles finally threw an interception. It was the day when the Eagles' offense had minus-2 yards of offense after the first quarter and zero points at halftime. It was the day when we found out something more about the kid quarterback who already has shown us so much in this increasingly enchanted season.
The unexpected snow that turned Lincoln Financial Field into a winter blunderland Sunday afternoon was threatening to bury the Birds when Detroit's Jeremy Ross returned a punt for a 58-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
After four straight wins had pushed them into a first-place tie with Dallas, it appeared as if the Eagles' season might be melting away. The Lions had taken a 14-0 lead, and the odds of Foles leading the Eagles to more than one touchdown looked as long as the area's traffic jams caused by the blizzard conditions.
At that point in the game, Foles had completed just 4 of 13 passes for 35 yards and set up Detroit's first-half touchdown with his first interception of the season. So how did the second-year quarterback who had never played in such deplorable conditions react to all the adversity?
Remarkably well, was the answer.
He had an immediate response to the Ross punt return, taking the Eagles on a critical touchdown drive in which he completed all four of his passes for 79 yards, including a 44-yarder to Riley Cooper and a 19-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to DeSean Jackson. That was the start of a rally that allowed the Eagles to stretch their winning streak to five games with a 34-20 win over the Lions. This one, for obvious reasons, will be filed in the special-memory section of Eagles history.
"That was a very, very unique game," Foles said. "I have never played in a game quite like that. Obviously we did not play well in the first half. Weather conditions aside, we still have to go out there and execute. But you know, that is what I love about this team. We are going to face adversity, but we are a tight-knit group, and we know we are going to go out there and continue to play together, and we are going to figure things out."
What the Eagles eventually figured out after Foles led them to their first touchdown was that the best way to play offense in a snowstorm is to hand the ball to LeSean McCoy and let him make the other guys miss. McCoy, with a franchise-record 217 yards rushing, had to become the star of this slippery game, but even as he piled up the yards, Foles made significant contributions.
Foles officially only threw three more passes after leading the Eagles to their first touchdown, but his two-point conversion completion to Cooper put the Eagles up for good early in the fourth quarter. On the Eagles' next scoring drive, Foles contributed a 20-yard scramble that put the ball in Detroit territory and scored on a fourth-down sneak from the 1-yard line. His final completion to Brent Celek, a 27-yarder just after the two-minute warning, allowed the Eagles to run out the clock.
Statistically, it was Foles' worst game since his October clunker against the Cowboys, and the second-quarter interception by Detroit cornerback Chris Houston left him one shy of Peyton Manning's record 20 consecutive touchdown passes without throwing an interception at the start of a season.
"The ball kind of sailed," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "Obviously it's a weather deal."
No big deal, was Foles' reaction.
"They happen," he said. "You let, on any level, one interception defeat you, you cannot play this game. I know a lot of hype has been made about the touchdown-interception ratio that I don't even worry about. I care about the wins."
As wins go, this one was huge on multiple levels. It left the Eagles a half-game ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East and the Chicago Bears just a half-game behind the Lions in the NFC North. The Cowboy and Bears play each other Monday night in Chicago.
Playing in the snow, playing from behind and playing after an interception provided another glimpse into what Nick Foles is all about. Guard Evan Mathis believes he already knew.
"If he throws a pick, it's not going to change anything," Mathis said. "He's still Nick Foles. He can still do what he does, and we're not worried about it. We go out there and respond. It was definitely a tough day to be a quarterback, but Nick kept his composure and kept his poise and handled it very well."
With Nick Foles throwing his first interception of the season Sunday against the Lions, here are the most TD passes to start a season without an interception:
20: Peyton Manning
19: Nick Foles
16: Milt Plum
14: Don Meredith
14: Randall Cunningham