PHILADELPHIA - When Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles entered Sunday's game against Dallas during the second quarter, the 69,144 fans at Lincoln Financial Field greeted him with a standing ovation.
Their roars grew even louder when Foles fired a 44-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to give the Eagles a 14-10 lead over the Cowboys.
But the next time they stood up, it was to head for the parking lot.
Although Foles had his share of bright spots upon relieving an injured Michael Vick, he also committed a pair of turnovers in a 38-23 loss.
"My job is to be ready to win the game and I didn't get the job done tonight," Foles said. "I didn't play good enough to win. I made some mistakes. I can't turn the ball over and that's the most important thing to win games. You can't turn the ball over. I turned it over twice and they ended up being touchdowns and I can't do that. I'm going to learn from it and get better at it. But I can't have that."
Foles, the Eagles' third-round draft pick from the University of Arizona, was summoned into action for the first time this season when starter Michael Vick suffered a concussion. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Vick, who had thrown a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Riley Cooper on the opening series, was forced out of the game when his head hit the turf upon being hit by Cowboys linebacker Ernie Sims, a former Eagles teammate. Until that point, Vick had taken every offensive snap in both the games and in practices during the regular season.
Foles' main responsibility was to lead the Eagles' scout team offense in practice, running the plays of their upcoming opponent against the defense.
"I had some butterflies at first," Foles said. "That's natural. But you just take some deep breaths and remind yourself that it's still football. It's a high level of football. It's the NFL. But it's still just football. When I get in the huddle with the guys and I see them, it's a calming thing. You realize you're with 10 other guys out there playing to achieve a common goal.
"It was my first time to go into a (regular-season) game, but I felt comfortable and confident. Even when I wasn't playing, I always stay in tune with the game."
Turnovers marred Foles' debut.
The Eagles trailed 24-17 when Foles threw a pass behind wide receiver DeSean Jackson early in the third quarter. The ball caromed off Jackson's hands and into the arms of cornerback Brandon Carr, who returned it 47 yards for a Cowboys touchdown. Later in the game, after the Eagles cut the deficit to 31-23, Foles lost a fumble when sacked by linebacker Anthony Spencer. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher recovered it for a touchdown.
"For not having practiced with the first group, I thought he came in and did some good things," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I think there were some plays he'd like to have back, but he kept battling. There were some positives there."
There is little doubt that the Eagles consider Foles their quarterback of the future, but his era is not quite ready to begin.
Reid put the kibosh on any talk of a quarterback controversy after the game. He made it clear that Vick would be back in the starting lineup as soon as he is healthy enough to play, perhaps as soon as next Sunday's game in Washington.
To his credit, Foles said he would have no trouble going back to the bench.
"Right now, I'm praying for Mike's health," Foles said. "Like I've said before, Mike's the leader of this team. He was doing a great job and it was unfortunate that he got hurt. I love Mike to death.
"I'm going to go back to work and focus on trying to get better as a quarterback. I didn't get the job done tonight, but if something happens to Mike like what happened tonight, I have to be ready to get back out there. My job as a quarterback is to be ready for anything."
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