Nick Foles' Eagles make it four in a row
Here's how well things are going for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles these days: With his team clinging to a 24-21 lead over Arizona on Sunday, Foles threw what would have been his first interception of the season after 19 straight touchdowns, only to be bailed out by a defensive holding call.
That penalty gave the ball back to Foles and the Eagles, who managed to hold on for a 24-21 win, their fourth in a row.
The emergence of Foles has been one of the more fascinating storylines of the 2013 NFL season, especially after Chip Kelly's arrival seemed to point toward a major comeback from Michael Vick. Instead, Foles has turned in his own redemption song, stepping up after an awful Week 7 showing against Dallas to lock in as one of the league's hottest quarterbacks.
"Besides the called-back interception," Kelly said after the game, "I don't have any issue with how Nick Foles played today."
He shouldn't have many complaints about Foles' performance over the last month, period. Foles' -- and the Eagles' -- recent hot stretch began with a seven-touchdown outburst during a 49-20 win at Oakland. It has continued with victories over Green Bay, Washington and now, perhaps most impressively, Arizona, keeping Philadelphia knotted atop the NFC East with the Cowboys.
Of course, the Eagles' performance of late arguably has as much to do with an improved defense as it does with Foles. Philadelphia forced three turnovers Sunday (two interceptions, one fumble), meaning that its defense has recorded multiple turnovers in every game of this four-game win streak. The Eagles also have not allowed more than 21 points since Denver hung 52 on the scoreboard against them way back in Week 4.
Add it all up and the Eagles continue to charge in the NFC, with three games upcoming against NFC North teams (Detroit, at Minnesota, Chicago) before a season-ending showdown at Dallas.
That their latest win came against a rolling Cardinals team should help the Eagles' confidence -- and the public perception of them as a contender -- moving forward. Arizona entered Sunday riding a four-game win streak of its own, buoyed by recent improvement from its own QB, Carson Palmer.
But while Foles managed to navigate Arizona's top-10 defense, Palmer could not do the same against the Eagles' 15th-ranked unit. Palmer did throw three touchdown passes to bring Arizona within striking distance late, but his early turnover problems stymied a run that saw him navigate November with six TD passes and just one interception.
As critical as Sunday's victory was for the Eagles, it was equally deflating for Arizona in the competitive NFC. The Cardinals not only slipped behind Philadelphia in the wild-card race (both teams are 7-5, with the Eagles now owning the head-to-head tiebreaker), but also left themselves in danger of being a full game back of the conference's No. 6 seed, pending San Francisco's game with St. Louis. A division title for Arizona, unlike Philadelphia, is out of the question.
But one can hardly chastise the road-tripping Cardinals too much for this setback. No team has slowed the Eagles in recent weeks, not since Foles kicked the offense into a gear equal to the one at which the defense was playing. Foles' amazing interception-less roll is still alive. Same goes for Philadelphia's hope of being a postseason player.