Column: Focused on the now, Nick Foles does his job to deliver Eagles a win over Rams
Nick Foles connected with his Philadelphia receivers on the field Sunday night, but he wasn’t interested in connecting the dots off it.
Yes, the Coliseum is where the Eagles, with Foles at quarterback, started their improbable march to their first Super Bowl victory last season.
Yes, this is where Foles, as a sophomore at the University of Arizona, handed Pete Carroll his farewell defeat in his last home game at USC.
And yes, Foles, again stepping in for an injured Carson Wentz, led the Eagles to a 30-23 upset of the Rams to keep alive Philadelphia’s flickering playoff hopes.
But Foles is squarely focused on the now. No looking back, or beyond the plane ride home.
“I know that’s going to be the story,” he said after the game, referring to the suggestion that this somehow parallels the start of last year’s magical run. “But it’s a new year, a new team, a different situation. At the end of the day, I always talk about staying in the moment, and tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Thanks to what they were able to accomplish Sunday night, there is a tomorrow for these Eagles. They still have a heartbeat in the playoff race, a viable candidate in what has become a very muddy NFC picture.
There’s no more running away with the conference and gliding across the finish line for New Orleans and the Rams. It’s hard to know what to believe in the NFC.
The Rams have lost back-to-back regular season games for the first time in the Sean McVay era.
New Orleans lost to Dallas, a week before the Cowboys were on the wrong end of a 23-0 humiliation Sunday by Indianapolis.
Seattle lost in overtime at beat-to-a-pulp San Francisco.
Chicago clinched the NFC North on Sunday, but is a mere two weeks removed from losing to the last-place New York Giants.
So at 7-7, the Eagles are still in contention for a wild-card spot and could even wind up winning the NFC East if they were to win their final two games, and Dallas were to go 0-2.
But this was a strange week for the Eagles, with a quarterback change and so much intrigue surrounding the health of Wentz, dealing with a fracture in his back. Through a media representative, he declined to speak with reporters Sunday night, pulling on his noise-canceling headset and trudging up the Coliseum ramp toward the bus, rolling suitcase in tow.
His coaches and teammates were muted in their reaction to the big win. Clearly, they were careful not to pile too much praise on Foles, either.
Rams receiver Josh Reynolds can’t make the catch on the game’s final play.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff has the ball dislodged by Eagle linebacker Kamy Grugier-Hill, who got past running back Todd Gurley.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams safety John Johnson knocks the ball away from Eagles tight end Zach Ertz on a pass to the end zone.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams returner JoJo Natson (19) is consoled by teamates after fumbling the ball to the Eagles on a punt during the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver KhaDarel Hodge can’t make the catch on a fake punt against the Eagles during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox intercepts a pass intended for Rams receiver Josh Reynolds during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff tries to recover a fumble during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley can’t make the catch as Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill makes the hit during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley hurdles Eagles safety Corey Graham to pick up big yards during the second quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery makes a catch in front of teammate Nelson Agholor (13) and Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner during the third quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley scores a touchdown against the Eagles defense during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver Josh Reynolds is tackled short of the goal line by Eagles defensive back Rasul Douglas during the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Quarterback Jared Goff watches as the Rams fail to convert on a fake punt against the Eagles.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams returner JoJo Natson fumbles a punt and the Eagles’ D.J. Alexander jumps on the ball late in the fourth quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Rams defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks tackles Eagles running back Josh Adams during the first quarter.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
It seemed as if the Eagles were all reading the same postgame playbook, careful not to rave about Foles, last season’s Super Bowl most valuable player, as to avoid what could be an explosive situation. This team doesn’t need a quarterback controversy.
“Just normal,” tackle Lane Johnson said with a shrug when asked what Foles showed him in the game. “He doesn’t really get riled up too much. Doesn’t get too up or too down. He’s just pretty consistent.”
Foles was far from perfect. He floated some passes, one of which was intercepted. He showed some real toughness, too, absorbing some punishing hits from Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh among others, but didn’t shy away from continuing to step into his throws.
“Each game is different,” Foles said of the hits. “Sometimes you take a bunch of little ones. Sometimes you don’t get hit much and there are a couple big ones. Today, they got a couple good licks on me, but I’m perfectly fine.”
He completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards, including a 50-yard connection with Alshon Jeffery that traveled 48 yards in the air. It was an impressive performance considering Foles hadn’t played for 12 weeks.
He said of the past week: “It was really emotional. You hate for your teammate to get hurt. I feel really bad for Carson. We’re tight in that QB room. But then you don’t really know what’s going to happen. You start taking reps — it’s been awhile — you go through the human emotions.
“I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, what I’ve done in the past, it doesn’t really matter when you step on that field. It’s a new day.”
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer
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