Eagles-Raiders: Foles Takes Another Shot at the Silver and Black
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Nick Foles and Drew Brees have quite a bit in common.
The current Eagles starting quarterback broke Brees' passing records back in Austin, Texas at Westlake High School and the two are in a group of eight quarterbacks (four in the Super Bowl era) who hold the NFL standard for TD passes in a game -- seven.
Brees was the most recent to do it, torching the New York Giants back on Nov. 1, 2015 and Foles' dream day came almost two years earlier to the day, Nov. 3, 2013 in Oakland.
The comparisons could continue into the NFL postseason as Philadelphia closes in on the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the Brees' Saints try to lockdown the NFC South in the next two weeks.
First things first for the Eagles, however, as Foles is set to renew acquaintances with his favorite colors (Silver and Black) when the Raiders visit Lincoln Financial Field on Christmas Day.
Much has changed since that fall day in Northern California during Foles' gaudy 27-and-2 sophomore NFL season. Chip Kelly is back in college at UCLA, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy are stars elsewhere and Foles himself has bounced around from Philly to St. Louis and Kansas City before coming full circle and signing back with the Eagles as Carson Wentz's backup.
A torn ACL suffered by Wentz has put Foles back under center as the 12-2 Eagles try to finish off a special season, something buoyed by the latter's debut back in the lineup a four TD performance against the Giants last Sunday, coincidentally the most scoring throws Foles has had in a game since the last time he faced the Raiders as a member of the Eagles.
Foles was so good that day in Oakland that the Pro Football Hall of Fame requested his jersey and cleats from the game and while the six-year veteran only shares the record with his fellow Texan Brees, as well as Peyton Manning, Joe Kapp, Y.A. Tittle, George Blanda, Adrian Burk and Sid Luckman, Foles is the only one to hit the threshold with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
“Our team was just trying to really figure out our identity at that point,” Foles said Wednesday when asked about the game. “We had ups and downs and we were just trying to put it all together. I look back at that day as that was the day we put everything together. Sort of that ah-hah moment. Like, ‘we can do this.’ Like ‘we know who we are. We know we can be explosive.’ And we just sort of took off at that point.”
The Eagles ultimately finished 10-6 that season and reached the playoffs for the only time in the Kelly era, losing to you guessed it, Brees and New Orleans, although Foles left the field with the lead until Brees engineered a late-game comeback.
Foles remained the starter into the next season and wasn't as statistically successful but did go 6-2 until breaking his collarbone. After the season Kelly engineered the rare starter for starter trade at the QB position, sending Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford.
Of Foles's seven scoring passes in Oakland, three went to Riley Cooper and one each to Jackson and McCoy. The only players that remain on the Eagles who got into the fun were tight end Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, who each hauled in a TD.
“Once you get over four, you kind of just lose track,” Ertz remembered. “It felt like no matter what the defense called, what we called as an offense was going to work. It was crazy."
What isn't remembered by most if that Kelly pulled Foles with 12 minutes in the game.
“He would have ended up setting the NFL record if we had let him stay in,” star center Jason Kelce said. “We were doing some things that the Raiders, quite frankly, didn’t have an answer for."
A different Raiders team will take its opportunity to find an answer for Foles on Christmas night, his first start at Lincoln Financial Field in over three years.
“Any time you wear an Eagles uniform it’s really special,” Foles said. “To step back out there at the Linc, I’m really excited for that opportunity. Knowing Philadelphia. It will be rocking."
As far as the game itself, a lot will depend on circumstance. If Minnesota loses to Green Bay at Lambeau Field on Saturday night the Eagles clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and Doug Pederson is likely going to manage the playing time of his stars.
If the Vikings win -- and they are heavily favored after the Packers shut down Aaron Rodgers for the season - Philadelphia will need the game against the Raiders and play accordingly.
973espn.com Prediction: Eagles 27, Raiders 21 (2017 Prediction Record: 11-3; vs. spread: 8-6)
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen