Foles Gets Off to Fast Start
Nick Foles got a 24-hour head start and made the most of it, leading the St. Louis Rams to a 34-31 season-opening win over the two-time defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Foles was sent to the Show Me State in the offseason, along with a second-round pick, for Sam Bradford despite piling up an impressive 14-4 record as a starter in Philadelphia under Chip Kelly and Bradford's shaky injury history, which includes back-to-back, season-ending ACL tears.
His progress is a storyline that's sure to follow Chip Kelly and the Eagles as long as both quarterbacks remain on the field this season and Foles finished 18-of-27 for 297 yards and a touchdown against some of the toughest competition available, at least on paper. And he accomplished it despite playing without his top two running backs, rookie Todd Gurley and Tre Mason.
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 37-yard field goal in the extra frame as St. Louis survived an 18-point fourth-quarter push by Russell Wilson and Co.
"If there’s time on the clock, the game’s never over no matter what the score is," Foles said. "That’s been my mentality as a little kid, something my parents instilled in me ... my dad ... just to fight to the end no matter what because you want to leave it all on the field. You don’t want to go back in the locker room and say, ‘I wish I coulda.’ You want to say, ‘I gave it everything I had.’ Our guys gave it everything they had tonight."
Trailing by a TD with just 53 seconds remaining, the Rams deadlocked things after Seattle defensive back Dion Bailey, playing due to the holdout of Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor, stumbled, allowing Lance Kendricks to get free for a 37-yard touchdown reception from Foles.
“I’m very fortunate to have some tremendous tight ends," Foles said. "They make a lot of plays. So to me, I had a matchup. It’s a matchup I took and Lance gave him a little move and ran right by him. He tripped up a little bit. Lance and ‘Cookie’ (TE Jared Cook), those guys, (TE) (Corey) Harkey, they do a great a job of really creating a lot of diversity in our offense. They made some big plays today.”
Ironically, another ex-Eagles player, oft-criticized cornerback Cary Williams had put Seattle on top when Foles failed to recognize his blind-side blitz and Williams recorded a trifecta, sacking the new St. Louis QB, stripping him and returning it for an 8-yard score.
Now it's Bradford's turn to answer in Atlanta Monday night.
Many have defended the former No. 1 overall pick who disappointed with the Rams claiming his supporting cast was never good enough in St. Louis but Foles has already embraced the challenge.
“I always had a lot of respect for the Rams," said Foles. "I remember when I played them when I was in Philadelphia, I had the utmost respect. They played with a lot of heart and they fought til the end. Everything I had heard about Coach (Jeff) Fisher was always positive. Then now I get to be a player for him and I can see why. He’s a guy you want to go out there and you want to play hard for. You want to give it everything you have and that’s for our coaching staff.
"...Our guys go out there and we stick together. We did a great job when adversity hit because it did. Several times throughout the night, we stuck together, leaned on each other and that’s what it takes to win. That’s what it takes to win in the NFL. To me, that’s Ram football right there.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen.