threw six touchdown passes total as a rookie last season. (Jed Jacobsohn/SI)
Peyton Manning, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle ... Nick Foles?
The Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback joined an historic collection of players Sunday, tying the NFL record with seven touchdown passes against the Raiders, in a 49-20 blowout victory at Oakland. Manning hit that mark in the NFL's 2013 season-opener against Baltimore, becoming the sixth player to reach that height -- Blanda, Tittle, Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk and Joe Kapp are the others.
Foles was as unlikely a candidate as any to join them. Prior to leaving his last outing in the fourth quarter with an injury, Foles had completed just 11-of-29 passes for 80 yards against the Cowboys. The Eagles failed to score any points while Foles was in the game, later picking up a field goal with Matt Barkley at the helm.
Highlighting further how improbable Sunday's performance was: Foles entered the game with six passing TDs this season, a number that matched his total for the entire 2012 season.
He found a groove early in Week 9, though, connecting with Riley Cooper for 42 yards on his first passing attempt and capping the Eagles' opening drive by tossing a 2-yard TD to Brent Celek. That score started an onslaught by Philadelphia's offense on a totally overwhelmed Oakland defense.
Remarkably, Foles finished the day with less incompletions (six) than he had touchdown passes, something no other QB tied for the single-game record can claim. Burk, also an Eagles quarterback, had the lowest total of anyone prior to Foles at eight (19-of-27).
Foles set the stage for his record-tying day with a stellar second quarter -- and specifically, with back-to-back passes to Riley Cooper. Just 37 seconds into the frame, Foles hit Cooper for a 17-yard touchdown; on the Eagles' next play from scrimmage, Foles and Cooper hooked up again on a 63-yard TD pass. Foles capped his first half with his fourth touchdown pass, a 15-yarder to Zach Ertz.
And the Raiders came up with no answers during halftime. Foles needed just four plays in the third quarter to strike again, from 25 yards out to LeSean McCoy. Less than three minutes later, DeSean Jackson hauled in a 46-yard TD toss to move Foles within one of the record.
The second-year QB out of Arizona got there long before the third quarter expired, finding Cooper again from five yards out.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly gave Foles two more chances to place himself alone atop the single-game TD chart with eight, but the Eagles stalled out on their ensuing drives. Kelly then pulled Foles for backup Matt Barkley at the 9:23 mark of the fourth quarter.
The performance from Foles was the high point of a roller-coaster season from the Eagles and their offense. Over the past two weeks, with Foles, Michael Vick and Barkley all seeing time at QB, the Eagles mustered only one field goal on offense. (Their lone TD over Weeks 7 and 8 came on special teams.) But Sunday's showing was the fifth time that Philadelphia has tallied more than 30 points in a game -- Kelly's team is now 4-1 when they hit that plateau.
Some of the inconsistency simply goes hand in hand with aggressively changing a team's playing style, as Kelly did right after taking over the Eagles' job. Kelly may be able to chalk up the rest to not knowing what he's going to get from his quarterbacks on a week-to-week basis, both in performance and health.
Vick, whose contract is up at the end of the season, may be on his last legs with Philadelphia. Foles still could be the team's quarterback of the future, with he and Kelly proving again Sunday that this new offense can work despite Foles' limited mobility.
If nothing else, Foles has earned himself another shot ... and a place in NFL history.