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By Joseph Santoliquito
OAKLAND, CA (CBS) — In the corner of his eyes, Nick Foles had to hold some faint memories of what it was like to play the way he used to, the way he expected, to put the swirling white noise out his mind and complete a pass using muscle memory and not really have to think about it.
He needed to be simple. He had to be clear. He had to push the Dallas disaster away and just play.
That version of Foles reappeared on Sunday. A super-jacked version. Foles was fluid. He threw with confidence and authority. But mostly, Foles was accurate and someone had to pay for how he played against Dallas two weeks ago.
Someone did. The Oakland Raiders.
The Eagles’ offense emerged from a two-game darkness to smash the helpless, huffing, puffing exhausted Raiders, 49-20, behind an NFL-tying seven touchdown passes from Foles in his ninth NFL start. The Eagles scored on six of their first seven possessions, and Foles finished his career game completing 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards.
Foles is the first quarterback in NFL history with seven touchdown passes and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He’s thrown 118 passes without an interception this year. So far, he’s the only NFL quarterback with at least 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
The only other time he said he ever threw seven TD passes was in a video game.
“I slowed everything down, I was trying to do what I did all week in practice and carry that on to the field,” said Foles, who couldn’t hide the happy grin in his face with each word. “I was told [of the record] after [the game]. Whenever I looked at records throughout my whole life, the greatest thing about it is the guys you do it with. It’s something special for the Philadelphia Eagles’ organization. We were able to spread the ball around and you have to look at the key components that went into it. The o-line blocking, guys running great routes, guys making huge catches.”
The Eagles are now 4-5 and kept pace with the first-place Dallas Cowboys, just one game behind the NFC East leaders.
Foles’ NFL-record tying seven touchdown passes in a game place him in the company of Peyton Manning (who tied the record earlier this season), which also includes Sid Luckman (1943), Adrian Burk (1954), George Blanda (1961), Y.A. Tittle (1962) and Joe Kapp (1969).
By halftime, Foles also joined another rare faction with Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, and Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 250-plus yards passing, and at least four touchdowns and a perfect (158.3) passer rating.
“Nick played really, really well and I think he’ll tell you the same thing, he had a really good week of practice and he was dialed into what we wanted to do,” Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly said. “We called a lot of plays that we called the last two weeks, we just executed them. I think that’s the biggest thing. [Foles] put the ball on people and he was really, really good in third down.
“When you can play a game and not turn the ball over, turnovers was a huge thing and we’ve been harping on that since the day I got here. If we can continue to do that, we have some guys that if you’re going to try to cover us one-on-one, they got to uncover them and they did today. That was big for us.”
Who knew that at the start of the day Foles would be lumped in with Manning, Luckman, Tittle, Favre and Brady?
Probably not even Foles’ parents.
When Kelly pulled Foles with 8:54 left to play, who knew Foles would transform the Oakland Coliseum, known for its “Black Hole” section, into a black hole of empty seats. Save for a good sprinkling of Eagles fans who welcomed back their long-lost quarterback by serenading him with chants of, “Nick Foles, Nick Foles, Nick Foles.”
Kelly was aware of the record, but wasn’t about to risk Foles getting injured going after it. “Putting Nick out there trying to get a record and he gets hurt, that’s being silly,” Kelly said. “I also think records are meant to be broken when they’re supposed to be broken. You ask Nick and I think it’s the same thing. It’s a hell of a thing to do and there’s not many people in the history of the game that have done it. We had a bunch of guys that wanted to beat the Raiders. There really wasn’t any talk [on the sidelines about the record].”
It is an amazing story of redemption for Foles, who was lambasted two weeks ago when he blew the opportunity to secure his spot as the Eagles’ starting quarterback. He deserved it then, after a hideous 11-for-29 performance against Dallas when he threw for 80 yards and misfired all over the field, missing open receivers.
Foles, who this season has 13 touchdown passes, eclipsed his Dallas pedestrian stats by the first quarter. In fact, the game was over by halftime. The Eagles’ defense, which has been surging and playing collectively better, put the clamps on Raiders’ one-dimensional quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Foles and the high-octane Eagles’ offense did the rest.
In the first two quarters, Foles had the Eagles up 28-13. He completed 15-19 for 260 yards passing and directed the first four drives for touchdowns. Foles involved the tight ends, who had been almost invisible during the previous Eagles’ eight-quarter freeze when they hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown.
Two of the Eagles first four TDs went to Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. Foles involved seven different receivers and Kelly and Foles had the Raiders completely baffled on defense.
By halftime, the Eagles had pounded a good Oakland defense for 328 yards of total offense and averaged a ridiculous 10.8 yards a play. By the middle of the third quarter, after Foles’ fifth and sixth TD passes, that average was up to 12.1 yards per play.
Riley Cooper also had a career game, making five catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns, absolutely abusing Raiders’ first-round draft pick D.J. Hayden (picked 12th overall). DeSean Jackson also had five catches for a game-high 150 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles offense finished with 542 yards of total offense, including eight plays that went 20-plus yards or more. The 49 points was an Eagles’ season best.
Pryor finished completing 22 of 41 for 288 yards and two interceptions, and also rushed for 94 yards on 10 carries. Pryor was once considered the best high school player in the nation.
Today, it’s Foles that’s the talk of the football world. Maybe the Dallas debacle is the best thing that happened to Nick Foles.
“I think what happened in the Dallas game is the exception and not the rule,” Kelly said. “I think what happened is expected by the guys around him every day. Maybe he showed some other people.”
QB Nick Foles tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, joining Adrian Burke, Peyton Manning, Joe Kapp, George Blanda, YA Tittle and Sid Luckman. Only Manning and Tittle also did so without throwing an interception … Foles’ 406 passing yards were a career high and the ninth-highest total in team history … Foles also had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 after completing 22 of 28 passes and not throwing an interception. According to Stats, Inc., the only other Eagles quarterback with a perfect rating was Donovan McNabb on 9/23/07 vs. Detroit … Foles has eclipsed a quarterback rating of 100 in three of his last four games … Foles now has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season, joining Peyton Manning (20) as the only two quarterbacks to reach 10 touchdowns before throwing an interception this year… WR Riley Cooper compiled a career high 139 receiving yards and three touchdowns, including a career-long 63 yarder. That touchdown was also a career-long for Foles … The last Eagle with three touchdown receptions in the same game was Kevin Curtis on 9/23/07 vs. Detroit … Cooper has accumulated 17 catches for 360 yards and four touchdowns over the last four games and has a career-high five scores this season … WR DeSean Jackson racked up 150 yards and his 29th career receiving touchdown. He now has a team-record six 150-yard games … The Eagles are 14-5 when he surpasses 100 yards and 23-5 when he scores a touchdown … With 5,608 career receiving yards, Jackson surpassed Tommy McDonald for fifth in team history and set a record for the most ever by an Eagle in his first six seasons … Jackson moved past Wally Henry and into second on the team’s all-time punt return yardage list with 1,262, trailing only Brian Mitchell (1,369) for the team record … With 26 career touchdowns of 25-plus yards, Jackson tied Mike Quick for second place in team annals … Jackson tied Brian Westbrook for 10th place on the team’s receiving touchdowns list with 29 … The Eagles scored a touchdown on their first four possessions of the game, marking their first time doing so since 11/15/10 at Washington. Their 49 points were also the most since scoring 59 that game and their 542 yards were their highest total since amassing a team record 592 in that game … TE Brent Celek scored his third touchdown of the season and the 23rd of his career, tying him with Chad Lewis for second all-time among Eagles tight ends. He also moved past Calvin Williams and into 10th on the Eagles all-time receptions list with 297. The Eagles are 18-5 when Celek catches a touchdown … RB Bryce Brown’s 32-yard run was the longest by any player against the Raiders this season … TE Zach Ertz had a career high five catches and scored his first-career touchdown … RB LeSean McCoy scored his ninth-career receiving touchdown … The Eagles were a perfect 4-4 in the red zone … The Eagles defense has now held its opponents to 21 points or less in each of the last five games, joining Kansas City as the only teams to do so during that span … The Eagles defense has also vastly improved over the last five games in many of the major categories, holding opponents to just 18.6 points and 397.4 yards per game, compared to 27.5 and 446.8 over the first four games … LB Trent Cole picked up his first sack of the season and the 72nd of his career … DE Vinny Curry tallied his third sack of the season, tying for the team lead … LB Mychal Kendricks notched his first sack of the season, becoming the 11th Eagle with a sack this season … CB Bradley Fletcher made his second interception of the season. The Eagles now have three cornerbacks with two picks apiece (Fletcher, Cary Williams, Brandon Boykin) … The Eagles 49-20 win marks the Eagles first-ever victory at the Oakland Coliseum as they were winless in their previous three contests. It is also the first time the Eagles beat the Raiders on the road since 1986 in a 33-27 overtime victory in Los Angeles … P Donnie Jones booted a 64-yard punt and now has a 39.9 net average this season, which is the highest in Eagles history.