Nick Foles was threading it like Betsy Ross.
He could have squeezed his passes through the crack in the Liberty Bell.
But the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback didn’t try to do it all Sunday in the biggest game of his life.
“The big thing that helped me is knowing I didn’t have to be Superman,” said Foles, standing at a lectern after the 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, his freshly minted Super Bowl T-shirt pulled tight over his pads. “I had amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me. All I had to do is go play as hard as I could, play for one another, play for those guys.”
And play for a city that hadn’t won an NFL title since 1960, long before any of these Eagles were born, the guys passing the Lombardi Trophy around and pretending to puff on unlit cigars.
It was truly a Rocky story come to life, with Foles being the first quarterback to come off the bench and lead his team to a Super Bowl victory since Tom Brady 16 years earlier.
Brady was scorching in this one, throwing for a postseason-record 505 yards and three touchdowns. But Foles, who considered retiring after negotiating his release from the Rams in 2016, wasn’t far behind him. He threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, and even caught a touchdown pass — one-upping Brady, who couldn’t hang on to a ball thrown to him on a trick play.
We all saw the Patriots last year, the way they erased a 25-point deficit in the Super Bowl against Atlanta, to come back and win in overtime.
While Philadelphia was running the RPO on Sunday — the run-pass option — the Patriots were running the DVR, a not-so-instant replay of that monumental comeback. But Foles didn’t panic. With his team trailing 33-32 and 9:22 left, he mounted a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz.
“I wasn’t worried about the scoreboard, I wasn’t worried about the time, I was just playing ball,” Foles said. “I think sometimes you worry about that so much it starts creeping into your brain. I was just playing. Whatever play Doug [Pederson] called, I was just going to go out there and rip it.”
He ripped it, and it was RIP to New England. Foles was named the game’s most valuable player, the night after Brady won that for the season.
The Eagles showed astounding resiliency this season, having lost nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, playmaking middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, and most importantly, quarterback Carson Wentz, who was the leading MVP candidate at the time.
When Wentz suffered his season-ending knee injury in a Week 14 game at the Rams, and Foles replaced him, the Eagles’ chances looked as stone cold as the temperature outside the Super Bowl stadium.
“A lot of people counted him out and didn’t think he could get it done,” Pederson said. “I believed in him, the players believed in him. We just needed time, we needed time together to work out some things. This whole postseason Nick has shown exactly who he is, and what he’s capable of doing.”
Teammate Jay Ajayi knew.
“Everyone doubts him and everyone talks about him,” the running back said. “And he just continued to step up to the plate and hit home runs. A special player, composed, confident, veteran leader, and he helped us win the game. MVP.”
Foles is deeper than a Hail Mary. He’s a family man, a devout Christian who grew up intending to be a pastor, and now a Philadelphia icon for the rest of time.
“Being on the podium with my wife, Tori, my daughter, Lily, that’s what life’s about right there,” he said. “We’re Super Bowl champs, but time does stop when you get to look in your daughter’s eyes and you get to celebrate this moment. I look in my wife’s eyes and get to celebrate with her.”
His voice wavered slightly, and he gripped the sides of the lectern tighter.
“They’ve been there… To be in this moment, to celebrate this moment, that’s what it’s about. Just grateful.”
Cry, Eagle, cry.
You’ve earned it.