Led by Nick Foles, resilient Eagles are back in playoff mix
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Facing a must win with their Super Bowl MVP backup quarterback leading the way, the Philadelphia Eagles responded like champions.
Don't write them off just yet.
"We're still playing for something," coach Doug Pederson said Monday, less than 24 hours after Nick Foles led the Eagles to a 30-23 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. "Our backs are against the wall. We know the nature of where we are, what needs to be done, and I think you saw a little bit of that last night. Just how well this team kind of came together in all three phases to get this win against a great football team."
The Eagles (7-7) still need help to get in the playoffs. They can only win the NFC East if they beat Houston (10-4) at home and Washington (7-7) on the road and Dallas (8-6) goes 0-2 or 0-1-1 vs. Tampa Bay (5-9) and at the Giants (5-9).
A wild-card berth is more likely if Philadelphia wins out, though Minnesota (7-6-1) or Carolina (6-7) has to lose or tie once more or Seattle (8-6) has to go 0-2 or 0-1-1.
"We want to continue to play," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "If we want our dreams to continue we've got to go take it. ... We've got the mentality that we have to go steal whatever it is that we want if we want to continue. It's not going to be easy; nobody asked it to be. We're fine with doing something special and extraordinary. Let's just take it one week at a time, keep competing and keep having fun."
Filling in for injured starter Carson Wentz, Foles was excellent against the Rams (11-3). He completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards. Foles threw an interception but led the offense to its second-highest scoring output this season in his first start since Week 2.
The veteran played with the same poise and confidence he displayed during the 2017 postseason when he stepped in for Wentz and led Philadelphia to its first NFL title since 1960.
"He's like a point guard in basketball, and he just wants to distribute the ball, doesn't matter where. He just wants to distribute the ball," Pederson said. "I think that's what you see characteristic of great quarterbacks in this league is how well they can do that. They don't get too high. They don't get too low. They kind of stay right in the middle. If something negative happens in the game, they brush it off and want to come back to it again. They will make it right the next time. Our quarterbacks have that type of demeanor and that is one of Nick's strengths, obviously, and it showed."
Pederson said Foles will start this week against the Texans but Wentz will remain on the active roster despite a stress fracture in his back.
"We continue to gather information like we do on all our athletes and all our players," Pederson said. "The information is favorable and it's something that was positive for him, positive for us. But at the same time, we have to make sure that he's 100 percent or better before we put him back out there. But right now, he'll be listed as week to week and we will go from there."
Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh simplified the game plan before playing the Rams, an idea that originated after a 29-23 overtime loss at Dallas and before it was known Wentz wasn't going to start.
The Eagles were balanced on offense, running the ball on 30 of 61 offensive plays. They're 7-0 this season when they have at least 25 running plays and 0-7 when they don't.
Foles connected with Alshon Jeffery eight times for 160 yards, including several passes downfield. That had been missing from Philadelphia's offense much of the season.
"Nick just did a (heck) of a job of just finding me, just throwing the ball and letting me go out and just make the plays," Jeffery said.
Notes: LB Jordan Hicks (calf) and DT Tim Jernigan (back) could return to practice this week. LG Isaac Seumalo (pectoral) and CB Sidney Jones (hamstring) are likely to miss another game.
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Updated December 17, 2018