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By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nick Foles had to know the moment was his. It was there for the taking. Everything he could have conceived was aligned perfectly.
All he had to do was repeat what he did against the New York Giants in relief of Michael Vick two weeks ago and look as good as he did last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Everything was there. Backing from a raucous home crowd starving to see a victory at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since September 30, 2012. And the Eagles starting job there for the taking.
All Foles had to do was beat the Dallas Cowboys and propel the Eagles into first place in the NFC East.
The moment, however, seized Foles. The second-year quarterback out of Arizona was asked to step onto the larger stage and he shrunk under the glare. Foles was wooden, never finding any rhythm. He overthrew and underthrew receivers, and appeared indecisive holding the ball for long moments as Cowboy defenders closed in.
He pressed. And when things began to unravel, he pressed some more.
Foles’ opportunity couldn’t have ended in a more ignominious way, suffering a head injury on the final play of the third quarter in the Cowboys’ 17-3 victory and leaving the field amid a hail of sarcasm from Eagles fans.
Foles departed early in the fourth quarter after completing 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards and a quarterback rating of 46.2. Under Foles, the Eagles amassed 143 yards of total offense on 53 plays for an average of 2.7 yards a play.
He left no mystery what he would do and the Cowboys knew just how to defend him. Force Foles to beat them with his arm by erasing the threat of LeSean McCoy.
If there was any debate as to who should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback now, Foles helped answer it on Sunday.
Ask yourself this: If Vick was the starting quarterback, would the outcome on Sunday turn out any different? With the multiple threat Vick presents a defense, chances are it may have.
Foles likes to throw to open areas of the field, and have receivers run to those spots. Dallas combated that with man coverage, throwing the Eagles’ receivers off their routes and forcing Foles to look indecisive, and hesitant in releasing the ball.
He posed no threat to run and take the ball down the field, save for a few scrambles where Foles did manage some yards. If Vick was placed in those same scenarios, there is a chance he would have tucked the ball and made Dallas pay as he did against the Giants.
“I thought our defensive line was able to pressure Foles and we were able to make tight coverages,” Dallas middle linebacker Sean Lee said. “We had to stop McCoy. That was the key playing disciplined football and making sure everyone rallied around McCoy. All week we worked on trying to stop McCoy. The coverages were tight all day and [Foles] had to hold on to the ball a bunch of times. We knew they like to go fast and make sure we didn’t leave anyone open. The guys on the outside are why we won. They challenged every throw.”
If there was any debate over who should be the Eagles’ starting quarterback, it’s now over. Foles had his chance to shine. His moment. He folded.