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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Nick Foles, the Eagles’ American Hero

Por Fidel Orihuela

Carson Wentz could not be in the postseason with the Philadelphia Eagles, after suffering a knee injury in a game against Los Angeles Rams. It was decided last December and since that moment, head coach Doug Pederson knew that he would have to use his backup quarterback, Nick Foles, in the playoffs that would eventually lead them to the Super Bowl.

It was a dramatic turn of events for the boy from Austin, Texas, who had thought about quitting the sport and dedicating himself to pursue a religious career after the Kansas City Chiefs did not sign up him for another year. He was surprised then when the Eagles decided to summon him to be Wentz backup, the second player selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft. He started working with Frank Reich, the quarterback’s coach of the Philadelphia franchise, who coincidentally was a backup passer of the Buffalo Bills between 1991 and 1994, at the team’s most unfortunate time, because they let 4 consecutive Super Bowls go.

Foles remained active, waiting for his opportunity and without losing his motivation, not even when he was injured in the preseason or when Carson Wentz was shining the most. This opportunity came, as he himself said, in the most tragic way, because it was thanks to Wentz injury that he could play. Since that moment on, the 29-year-old quarterback faced with passion the challenge of substituting Wentz, like he had to substitute Michael Vick in the year of 2013, a season in which he accomplished 27 touchdown passes and only two interceptions with a record of 10-5 in the regular season and not one lost ball in the playoffs.

In this occasion, the quarterback had fewer chances of playing than in the classification games. Now he could only play three games, but they were enough to establish a perfect synchrony with his receptors, which enjoyed his passes in the last games. Maybe the most important one was Alshon Jeffery’s catch at the beginning of the Super Bowl, which was enough to score the longest touchdown (34 yards) in the history of the Eagles in the finals. That was a clear example of the connection between Foles and his teammates, who enjoyed very much the fact that he entered the records as the only man who has thrown and caught at least one touchdown pass since the Super Bowl started half a century ago.

Besides, Foles became the third titular quarterback in a Super Bowl with three or less openings in the regular season, something that had only happened before with Doug Williams (1988-Washington Redskins) and Jeff Hostetler (1991-New York Giants), which curiously, also ended up winning the Vince Lombardi Award and Williams, just like Foles, got the MVP in the finals. His game against the Patriots was exceptional, with 373 yards, which allowed him to consolidate his fabulous postseason results. He was compared to the great Joe Montana when he completed more than 75% of his passes in consecutive games.

As if it wasn’t enough, Foles joined Tom Brady as the third quarterback couple to register at least 300 yards each in a Super Bowl, something only accomplished before by Brady himself and Jake Delhomme (Carolina Panthers) in 2004 and several years before that by Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers) and Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins) in 1985.