It’s a sad state of affairs when simply getting a win becomes the goal of a football team. Not multiple. Just one. But that’s where the Philadelphia Eagles found themselves on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Tampa to face the Buccaneers.
Just stop the bleeding of over two months of not winning a single game. After losing eight straight losses, the feeling of winning had nearly been forgotten. But how quickly and gleefully it returned, with rookie quarterback Nick Foles leading two successful drives to bring victory to the Birds.
With a two seconds left on the clock, Foles connected with Jeremy Maclin in the endzone to win the game 23-21. But wait! It gets better. Not only did Foles make that successful final drive, he made the decision to go with the winning play.
All that after enduring six sacks during the game. But Foles kept getting up and in those final moments showed that poise and precision that wowed us in the preseason. It was back, and when it was needed most. That’s the leadership and decision-making you want to see out of the quarterback who looks more and more like he can be the future of your team.
It was a game that in terms of implications for the season meant nothing, as the Eagles were officially eliminated from the playoffs with the Cowboys’ win over the Bengals. But to a franchise wrestling with an uncertain future, it meant everything.
Foles had shown improvement in his performance in Dallas last week. That was an important step. However, after being handed the starting quarterback reigns of the Philadelphia Eagles, it was time for Foles to do more. Time to show that he could make the big plays under pressure. And that he did.
The rookie quarterback’s numbers for the day were 32/51 for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns, setting a franchise rookie passing record. But young Nicholas’ show wasn’t just in the air on Sunday. He also showed that he can move when needed, also notching a rushing touchdown in the second quarter.
The day certainly didn’t look like one that would end in hope, with tight end Brent Celek exiting the game with a concussion in the first play of the game. But several members of the Birds’ offense stepped up to have big games. Jason Avant had 133 yards on the day on 7 receptions, including an incredible one-handed grab that is sure to make “best play” highlights all week, if not make top plays of the year. Maclin, having an eerily quiet season, made some noise with 104 yards on 9 catches, including the winning TD.
Thank goodness for the success of the passing game, as the Bucs and their run defense held Bryce Brown to next to nothing after two huge games for the rookie. Brown finished the game with a paltry 6 yards on 12 carries.
The Eagles offense wasn’t the only story this game. There was also the almost instantaneous improvement of not just the defensive line following the firing of Jim Washburn, but of the D as a whole. The line brought pressure to Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, with both Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins getting a sack a piece. While Colt Anderson stood in for the injured Kurt Coleman, the Birds’ secondary wasn’t great, but looked much better than it has in weeks.
Philadelphia got a much needed lift to its step just in time for a quick turnaround—the team will face the Cincinnati Bengals at the Linc on Thursday night. They’ll do so with a brand new confidences in themselves and their new quarterback.
You know you want to watch Avant’s amazing one-handed play again and again. You can do so here.