Focused Foles Plans to be Ready for the Patriots
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Nick Foles stared down the NFL's best defense in the NFC Championship Game and carved it up.
His reward for that is a date with the G.O.A.T. and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Foles has had quite the career, coming out of nowhere in 2013 to put together a season for the ages with 27 touchdowns against just two interceptions while running Chip Kelly's up-tempo spread offense.
The numbers seemed surreal even in the modern era of football where the passing game has exploded, at least until Tom Brady put together a 28-and-2 campaign in 2016 en route to his record fifth Super Bowl championship.
Since Foles' career year, he was traded to the then-St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford and ultimately thought about walking away from the game after a failed stint under Jeff Fisher.
The allure of playing under Andy Reid again, the coach who drafted Foles in Philly, kept Foles in the game as a backup in Kansas City last season. Then, when Reid acolyte Doug Pederson, who was on Big Red's staff as the QB coach when Foles came into the league, got the big chair in Philly he specifically asked for Foles as his backup and Howie Roseman obliged.
Now it's Foles vs. Brady on the biggest stage of them all. "Mr. 27-and-2" against "Tom Terrific" and the eight Super Bowl appearances.
“The big thing is just staying in the moment," Foles said on Wednesday when asked about the magnitude of the game. "The second you start looking at everything that’s going to happen in the next two weeks? It can be overwhelming for anyone."
Anyone but Brady that is, a QB whose record as a starter since this decade began is 99-25, a mind-numbing .786 winning percentage.
The hurdle is daunting even if the supporting cast in New England looks at least somewhat vulnerable.
If it were Carson Wentz vs. Brady, perhaps the narrative would be the potential passing of the torch but the Pats come in as a significant 5 1/2-point favorite with most outside of the Delaware Valley boiling it down to: Brady > Foles.
Most of the same people, however, saw the NFC title game as the Vikings defense > Foles.
Through it all Foles has remained steady whether he has performed poorly like the five-quarter stint bridging the Oakland and Dallas games to close the regular season or the 2013 Pro Bowl version of himself that showed up while vanquishing Minnesota.
"This is a big moment," Foles admitted. "It’s the Super Bowl. It’s something you dream about as a kid. But at the same time, it’s a game."
A game that has the Eagles 60 minutes away from the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
"Once I step on the gridiron, I’m playing against the Patriots and that’s where it comes down to trusting your preparation, working every single day and living in that moment and doing what you have to do daily, and then once the game comes you know you did everything in your power," Foles said. "You’ve eliminated the distractions that are there because there’s going to be. This is a big stage. There’s a lot going on. This [NovaCare Complex] room just keeps increasing with cameras and people in it and it’s just going to keep going."
Right up until the kickoff in Minneapolis a week from Sunday.
And for Foles, who currently has the highest passer rating in NFL postseason history, the time in between will decide things.
"You just focus on the little things and what’s important, and what’s important is our preparation and what we do as a team," he said. "... [The Pats] are an amazing team, an amazing organization. Our strength is the team. We lean on each other. You don’t have to go out there and do it by yourself. We’re going to go out there with great energy, and we’re going to out there and give everything we have in this game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen