— From the game's first play from scrimmage until the bitter end of a 38-33 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles made the strongest case yet for remaining as starter.
Starter of the present. Starter of the future. Starter period.
Still recovering from a concussion, Vick will never again see the light of day in Philadelphia, literally, if not figuratively.
In the meantime, despite being cursed by a team that continued to collapse around him, Foles played an incredibly poised game in an incredibly hostile atmosphere against a desperate opponent and came out the other side without a turnover for a second straight week.
But unlike the week before, when the rookie escaped a loss to Carolina with at least three awful passes that should have been picked off (not to mention returned for touchdowns), he made no such errors in this contest, which began with him getting crushed on a blindside hit by DeMarcus Ware.
Instead of rattling him, the hit seemed to have an opposite effect, helping Foles focus in like never before, or at least like former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, who claimed to love being hit hard early in games.
"It wakes you up," Kelly famously said.
Same, apparently, with Foles, whose most egregious mistake in this game was overthrowing Jason Avant on a two-point conversion that would have cut the Cowboys' lead to three points with 31 seconds remaining. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Dallas anyway.
Foles completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a passer rating of 96.6.
"I felt comfortable," Foles said. "I feel more comfortable every time I take reps. I was really proud of the guys. The guys up front did a great job blocking all night. ... I missed a few throws that I'm going to keep working on, that we have to hit.
"It just shows you have to be solid throughout the game and eliminate mistakes."
Truth be told, Foles was telling a little white lie. Although the blocking certainly was better than it had been, maybe better than it has been all season, he took just one sack in a game where Vick might have absorbed half a dozen. There still was all kinds of pressure. Foles was just quicker with his decisions inside the pocket and out, and he didn't do anything foolish to extend plays that often end in disaster, especially for this team this year.
Foles also is quicker with his feet than probably anyone thought he would be, and he showed that again in this game, deftly sidestepping defenders to buy extra time or just plain getting rid of the football when he should.
In the third quarter, on a play in which Vick would have been buried nine times out of 10, Foles shoveled a little outlet dump to Bryce Brown at the last possible second. Had the Cowboy defender who was closing in unblocked leveled Foles on the play, he could hardly have been blamed. But to his credit, he held up and Foles remained upright.
Just another example of how less mobility can be more.
Foles never once tried to force anything in this contest.
"I felt like we took some shots a few times down the field," he said. "We tried to stretch them out. They were playing pretty soft coverage, so they gave us a lot of stuff underneath. I was just trying to be smart with the football, just keeping drives alive, being efficient.
"That is stuff I will look at. I thought receivers did great jobs with the routes and great job catching the ball and moving after."
Foles might not be the long-term answer for the Eagles. That call can't be made until the end of this season at the earliest. The sample size is too small yet to judge. Plus, Reid won't be around much longer, so it will be up to the next guy to determine Foles' future in Philadelphia.
But Monday's move was a huge next step, following the giant steps a little more than 12 hours earlier.
"Number one, I just think he's playing well enough to where I think he can win football games for us," Reid said. "And two, I think where we sit at this position in the season, I think it's the right thing to do. With Michael, we need to make sure he gets healthy. This thing has carried on a while here now and I want to make sure he is good to go."
Go away, that is.
The Nick Foles era, though perhaps temporary, has begun, and everybody is on board with it, including Vick, according to Reid.
"I thought he did a very good job," tight end Brent Celek said after the game. "I was just talking to him about it. He did a god job reading down the field, taking what they were giving him, commanding the huddle. He did a good job."
Added running back Bryce Brown: "Nick did a great job. He controlled the game, played well, did everything he was supposed to do."
At the very least, Reid has turned these last four weeks into something worth watching.