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Nick Foles: From Backup To MVP Candidate

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 15: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles dives for a gain against the Minnesota Vikings on December 15, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – DECEMBER 15: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles dives for a gain against the Minnesota Vikings on December 15, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles raised expectations so high with one stellar performance after another that even one poor throw raises questions.

That’s life as the NFL’s top-rated passer.

Foles threw for a career-high 428 yards and three touchdowns in Philadelphia’s 48-30 loss at Minnesota last week, but his one interception and 18 incompletions were a bigger deal. The second-year pro wasn’t as sharp as usual, especially early in the game when the Eagles struggled offensively.

“I think that when you have success, people’s expectations do grow,” Foles said. “When they see you play consistently well every week, then that’s what they expect, and that’s what I expect. I expect nothing different, but I can’t let a game where I feel like I didn’t play well and didn’t help our team as much as I should have affect me to where I can’t play at that level. I’m going to continue to strive every week to play at that level. My goal going into the game is to play a perfect game. In reality, that isn’t really possible, but that’s why you have that short memory throughout the game.”

On the overachieving Eagles (8-6), Foles’ rise from backup quarterback to perhaps an MVP candidate has been the biggest surprise. He’s 6-2 as a starter since taking over for Michael Vick, and has the Eagles on the verge of winning the NFC East after finishing 4-12 last season. They’re one game ahead of Dallas (7-7) with two weeks remaining. The Eagles host Chicago (8-6) on Sunday night.

Foles has been excellent in six of eight starts. He was awful in a 17-3 loss to the Cowboys in Week 7, and had an up-and-down game against the Vikings. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a 49-20 win at Oakland on Nov. 3, has thrown at least three TDs in five games, and has posted a passer rating of 100 or higher seven times.

He started the season with 19 TD passes and no interceptions before throwing his first pick in blizzard-like conditions against Detroit two weeks ago. Then he threw another interception in Minnesota and everyone wondered why.

“Sometimes you just miss them,” Foles said. “I wish I could say that I’d be perfect every time, but that’s not reality and I missed a few. I was a little high on a few, but then you can count on me to bounce back and I’m going to deliver a strike somewhere. I’m going to keep fighting through it. It’s frustrating to not throw a perfect pass every time. That’s one of those things that I’m going to continue to work on.”

Overall, Foles has thrown for 2,398 yards, 23 TDs, two interceptions and he’s completed 62 percent of his passes. His QB rating of 117 is first in the league ahead of Peyton Manning (112.9), and it’s fourth best in NFL history.

The 24-year-old has impressed coaches and teammates with his maturity, leadership and poise. He handles adversity well and understands teammates look to him when things aren’t going right.

“If I mess up, I forget about it,” Foles said. “I know what I did wrong and I try not to let it happen again. If it does happen again, I just keep fighting through it because my teammates are looking at me as the quarterback, and they’re trying to see how I’m going to react in those adverse situations. When everything is going wrong, when guys are going crazy and when composure’s lost, what is the quarterback doing? Is he going to lose composure or is he going to keep firing the ball? I’m going to keep firing the ball and keep the guys together.”

NOTES: Rookie safety Earl Wolff was a full participant in practice Wednesday and expects to play against the Bears after missing four games with a knee injury. Safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee) are more uncertain. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin has a concussion and still has to be cleared to practice.

Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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