Nick Foles silences doubters with a performance for the ages | David Murphy
Nick Foles was everything the Eagles needed him to be. In fact, Foles was more. He was perfect.
The rest of the nation was at commercial break when the moment finally broke. All night, it had been building: a rhythm, an energy, a quiet intensity, the ether of a universe with a population of one. At the uppermost bound of any craft is a nirvana-like dimension where one's surroundings recede into the distance and the present moment feels as if it is the only thing that exists. Nick Foles had spent three-and-a-half quarters alone in this realm, dropping back, sliding forward, calmly planting and spinning pinpoint throw after throw. For three hours, he had been all of the things they said he couldn't possibly be: poised, tough, accurate, confident…a Super Bowl caliber quarterback in every sense of the phrase.
Now, with two minutes remaining and the stadium rocking and the sideline dancing and the opponent staring blankly into the middle distance, Foles jogged toward the sideline and the silver-haired coach beckoning from just beyond the hashmarks. Doug Pederson opened his arms like an old friend and the moment lifted like a weight.
"Coach Pederson is the one who drafted me," Foles said later. "He was the only coach who flew down to Texas and worked me out. I was only worked out by one team, and that was by Coach Pederson. . .the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on me. To win this game for him and this organization is something very special."
You could've predicted a lot of what went down on the final leg of the Eagles' improbable journey to Super Bowl LII: that a relentless pass rush would wreak havoc on the Vikings' ability to execute their game plan; that the entire complexion of the game would change on a touchdown return off a Case Keenum interception; that the Eagles' front seven would smother Minnesota's running game, further amplifying the effect of their pass rush; that Pederson would stomp his foot down on the gas pedal and refuse to let go, tacking on three points with an urgent drive at the end of the first half and then opening up the second with a 41-yard flea-flicker bomb for a touchdown, stunning the Vikings sideline into the silent, wide-eyed stillness of resignation.
"All week he's been calm, he's been confident, he's been energetic," Pederson said. "He's everything we knew he was. He's been that way now for two weeks and it's shown on the field."
"In sports, everything is a process," Foles said, "Everything you do in life is a process that you work at it, and you can't give up. When you have a bad outing, everyone wants to be very critical and I get that it's part of the media's [responsibilities]. I totally understand. But as players, the special thing is that no one in the locker room doubted me. Everyone just kept believing. We kept working and we kept getting more reps in practice. It's just a rhythm thing. You just have to keep working."
"I just told him how proud I am of him," Pederson said, "and I loved him."