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Have faith in Foles

Posted by Eric Fisher On December 25

You believe, don’t you?

Did you hear the rabid fans at Lincoln Financial Field chanting Foles’ name Sunday when, after absorbing a vicious hit by the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney, Foles rose up and walked off the field? Did you hear the crowd chant Foles’ name one play later as he jogged back onto the field to complete the game-winning drive?

Is there any way for this story to end other than with Nick Foles leading the Eagles back into the playoffs Sunday?

Foles and the Eagles can’t accomplish this goal on their own. Even if they defeat the Redskins on Sunday (4:25 p.m.), they still need the Bears to beat the Vikings. But the Bears, who have already qualified for the playoffs, dare not fail to fulfill their role in this drama overflowing with destiny and fate.

Destiny. Fate. Belief. Whatever you want to call it, it seems to be embodied in Foles.

In a story that Hollywood would reject for being unrealistic and too sappy, Foles, after seriously contemplating retirement, signs with the Chiefs, reuniting him with Andy Reid, his head coach when his career began with the Eagles. But Foles doesn’t recapture the magic of his 27-touchdown, 2-interception season with the Chiefs. That would have to wait until he rejoined the Eagles.

Foles signs with the Eagles, where his role is to back up hot-shot quarterback Carson Wentz, who is entering his second season after being selected second overall in the NFL Draft. Foles is reunited with Doug Pederson, who was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator while Foles was with Kansas City. Pederson was not the Eagles’ first choice to be head coach. He was a career backup quarterback who is best remembered in Philadelphia for playing pretty poorly for half a season as a starter while fans howled for Reid to make rookie Donovan McNabb, like Wentz, the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, the starting quarterback. But Pederson’s story of redemption takes a backseat to Foles’ resurrection.

Pederson, Reid and Wentz all play supporting roles in this story, but Foles is the central character. He plays the good soldier, standing in the shadows while Wentz enjoys an MVP-worthy season. And then, suddenly, Wentz suffers a season-ending knee injury. Foles is thrust into the spotlight.

Hollywood would have had Foles turn in a majestic performance when given this golden opportunity, but real life produces better drama. Foles was pretty ordinary as the Eagles finished out the regular season. He wasn’t much better as the Eagles squeaked out a victory over the Falcons in the opening round of the playoffs.

Foles was a major reason that most people didn’t give the Eagles much of a chance during last season’s playoffs. With Wentz, the Eagles might be Super Bowl contenders, the conventional wisdom said, but, with Foles starting, the Eagle don’t have much of a chance. That’s why they were underdogs in every playoff game.

But Foles was terrific as the Eagles crushed the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. He would have to reach another level in the Super Bowl. The opposing quarterback was Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

Brady was excellent in the Super Bowl. Foles was even better.

The most memorable moment of the Super Bowl was Foles catching a touchdown pass. The Philly Special went down in history. And the legend grew when NFL Films captured the calm-and-collected Foles – is there any moment that’s not “too big” for him? – suggesting the play to Pederson, who has the wisdom and lack of ego to go with his quarterback’s wishes.

Foles was deservedly named the Super Bowl MVP. He basked in the glory of delivering the first Super Bowl title to a championship-starved fan base. He wrote a book, appropriately titled “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds.”

And that was the end of our hero’s story. At least it appeared to be. Foles kept the seat warm this season, starting two games, until Wentz was ready to return from his knee injury.

But this story was so good that, as is the case in Hollywood, it commanded a sequel. An injury once again sent Wentz to the sidelines in December. Foles came off the bench to breathe new energy into a lifeless season.

When all seemed lost again Sunday, with the Eagles squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and trailing the Texans by one point, in part because of a missed extra point, Foles again came to the rescue. All that was riding on the final drive were the Eagles’ playoff hopes.

Taking over at the 11-yard line in the final two minutes, Foles found Alshon Jeffery for a big gain in a desperate third-and-10 situation, but he paid a heavy price. Clowney appeared determined to drive his helmet through Foles’ chest as he drilled him following the release of the pass. Clowney was penalized for roughing the passer, but that wasn’t the fans’ primary concern. Foles, their beloved hero, laid prone on the ground with athletic trainers all around him. For a few scary moments, Foles’ health – and the Eagles’ playoff hopes – appeared to be in serious jeopardy.

And then, as if he were a boxer climbing off the canvas in a movie, Foles got up as the fans provided the soundtrack by chanting his name. “Foles! Foles! Foles!”

They chanted his name again one play later as he jogged onto the field. Foles, in what might have been his final game as an Eagle at Lincoln Financial Field, lived up to the hero’s role again by leading the Eagles into range for Jake Elliott’s game-winning field goal as time expired.

The Eagles’ playoff hopes stayed alive. Foles, who threw four touchdowns and set a single-game franchise record with 471 passing yards, was the hero again.

As I write this column on Christmas Eve, the title of Foles’ book is prominent in my mind: Believe it. Not to get overly religious, but it would be wise to put your faith in Nick Foles.

There’s only one way for this story to end.

And this story – and his story – are too good not to come true.

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