TAMPA, Fla. - The Philadelphia Eagles may have found their franchise quarterback.
Rookie Nick Foles delivered a fantastic performance Sunday in leading them to a thrilling 23-21 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium.
Foles, a third-round draft pick out of Arizona, was the primary reason the Eagles broke their eight-game losing streak. He completed 32-of-51 passes for 381 yards, an Eagles' single-game rookie record, with two touchdown passes and rushed for another TD.
Most importantly, he showed the leadership skills required of a quarterback. He showed poise under pressure while directing the game-winning drive, which ended with his 1-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with no time remaining.
"You guys are seeing Nick Foles grow into a phenomenal quarterback right in front of your eyes," Maclin said. "Nick has a chance to be special. I think the sky is the limit for him."
Foles has yet to put together a string of great games but has made steady progress since taking over for Michael Vick last month.
Foles reached a new high against the Buccaneers by guiding the Eagles down the field during a 64-yard drive with no timeouts.
Foles picked apart the NFL's worst-ranked pass defense with a number of big plays down the stretch. He completed a 23-yard pass to Maclin on a third-and-14 from the Eagles' 32-yard line, scrambled for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Bucs' 31 and then fired a 22-yard strike to Jason Avant on fourth-and-5 from the 23 to set up his winning toss to Maclin.
"The big thing in those situations is to be smart with the football," Foles said. "You can't take sacks and you have to be aggressive. In the two-minute drill, you have to make sure you play fast.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to the offensive line for doing a great job up front and really giving me time to throw. And our receivers ran great routes."
Before the final play, Tampa Bay called timeout.
Foles jogged over to the Eagles' sideline and suggested the play that produced the winning points.
"When he came off, he goes, 'Hey, I'm feeling this right here,' " Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "You saw (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) give him a high-five and that's what that was all about. It's a great thing when your quarterback is in tune like that. He did a great job of executing it, so hats off to him."
Foles did a great job of executing throughout the game.
Tampa Bay applied constant pressure. The Buccaneers sacked him six times and delivered at least a half-dozen other hits that left Foles on the turf.
"We didn't play well as a line," Eagles guard Jake Scott said. "It was one of those games where our quarterback had to bail us out and he did."
With three games left in the season, Foles will be hard-pressed to top his performance against the Bucs.
"This was a step forward for him," Reid said. "It wasn't a smooth event. We had our ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and he hung with it. It looked like he made people around him better, and he got better."
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