TAMPA, Fla. - The Philadelphia Eagles have had their share of saviors in the last 20 years or so.
Bobby Hoying looked like a star late in the 1997 season.
They drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007 to be Donovan McNabb's successor.
Michael Vick was the talk of the town - if not the entire country - in 2010.
Now it's Nick Foles' turn.
The rookie quarterback reached instant legendary status in the stands and in the locker room by leading the Eagles to a thrilling 23-21 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday.
"He's pretty impressive," said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who caught the winning touchdown pass as time ran out in the fourth quarter. "His intelligence is off the charts. His knowledge of the game, his sense of the game, are incredible. He's got a chance to be special."
Foles also has got the look of a top quarterback, at least on the field.
At 6-foot-6 and 243 pounds, he stands almost nose-to-nose with even the biggest offensive linemen. During games, he never flinches, even when opposing defensive linemen are hurling him to the turf. He endured six sacks against a ferocious Buccaneers pass rush but kept his composure.
"It's not easy to keep your poise when you're getting hit all day as a rookie, but he did," said Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had two sacks. "He could have gotten nervous during that last drive, but he didn't. All the credit goes to him."
Foles also demonstrated a willingness to succeed by any means necessary.
Besides throwing for 381 yards and two touchdowns against the Bucs, he scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard run.
"He's not going to win a whole lot of races," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "But he knows how to make big plays."
He saved his biggest for the fourth quarter, when he led a pair of scoring drives that enabled the Eagles to erase a 21-10 deficit. The Eagles cut the Bucs' lead to 21-16 on Foles' 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clay Harbor with 4 minutes, 4 seconds left in regulation.
They got the ball back with 2:44 remaining and were 64 yards away from ending an eight-game losing streak.
In the huddle, all eyes were on Foles.
"It was fun out there," said Eagles guard Jake Scott, who experienced a few game-winning drives with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. "To have a chance to win the game in the last second, that's why we play this game. That's the rush we play for. We were expecting Nick to lead us and he did. He was composed through all of it, and that's what you need, a quarterback who can make decisions under pressure."
During the final drive, Foles completed just two of his first five passes and suffered a sack, but he kept throwing and scrambling. A 9-yard pass to Maclin left the Eagles 1 yard short of a first down. Foles picked it up with a 3-yard run on fourth down.
Still, a victory seemed unlikely. The Eagles were at the Bucs' 28-yard line with 35 second left and no timeouts.
"You just keep playing," Foles said. "You just keep playing for each other."
After three more incompletions, he hit wide receiver Jason Avant for 22 yards on fourth down to put the ball at the 1-yard line. With only 10 seconds left, however, Foles had to get the rest of the offense downfield and in position to spike the ball in order to take one last shot at a win.
He spiked it with 2 seconds remaining. After a Bucs timeout, Foles trotted over to the sideline and suggested a play to Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Then came the game-winning toss to Maclin, who made a sliding grab in the corner of the end zone.
"I just like movement plays," Foles said. "It felt good. It was the first play that came to my head."
After celebrating with his teammates on the field and in the visitors' locker room, Foles emerged still wearing his full uniform save for the baseball cap he tugged on over his shaggy, dirty-blonde hair.
After he was done, the 23-year-old pulled on a T-shirt and jeans for the flight back to Philadelphia. His fashion sense drew comparisons to former Eagles quarterback Koy Detmer, who would buy his entire road wardrobe for the season with a 10-minute visit to Target.
But no one cares if he dresses like a winner as long as he plays like one.
"Nick has a great upside," Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "To see a rookie come in and play the way he's been playing, it's pretty special."
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