D.A.: No Historical Precedent For The Nick Foles Magic

Foles, who has the Eagles on another Cinderella run, might not make it to Canton, but Atlanta? It's possible – and unheard of.

Damon Amendolara
January 07, 2019 - 3:09 pm

USA Today Images

Somehow he did it again. Nick Foles led the Eagles down the field, cooly and calmly, and found Golden Tate for the win. Sure, Cody Parkey had to double-doink the game-winning field goal as time expired for it to hold up, but Foles did his part. Again. And there is no historical precedent for it this time around. 

When Foles took over for the injured Carson Wentz last season it wasn't the first time a Super Bowl contender had lost its quarterback for the stretch run. The '93 Dolphins lost Dan Marino and a 9-2 start collapsed into 9-7. Two years ago the Raiders were 12-3 when Derek Carr broke his fibula on Christmas Eve, and Oakland's playoffs were doomed. Last season the Texans watched Deshaun Watson go down for the year, and the final two months were a 1-8 nightmare. When the Eagles turned to Foles in '17, they joined a crowded room in NFL history. 

Philly's run to a Lombardi Trophy though, had few peers. As Foles got better and rose to each occasion, dominating the vicious Vikings defense in the NFC title game, then riddling Bill Belichick's secondary in the Super Bowl, he joined a select group of second-string heroes. In '80, Dan Pastorini was injured in October opening the door for Jim Plunkett to lead the Raiders to a championship. Joe Gibbs won his second title in '87 with backup Doug Williams. The '90 Giants went on a Cinderella Super Bowl run behind Jeff Hostetler when Phil Simms was lost for the year. 

Had Philly's storybook ended there, with Foles earning Super Bowl MVP awards and forever being etched into the fabric of Philadelphia lore, the moment would have been glorious enough. But Sunday's victory in Chicago has opened the door for a repeat magic carpet ride, which has literally never happened in the Super Bowl era. Plunkett remained the Raiders starter long enough to win another championship in '83. Hostetler parlayed his run into winning the quarterback duel the next season, then a contract with the Raiders to be their starter. Williams became an NFL icon as the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, an accomplishment remembered each winter for good reason. Foles didn't have to do anything else to enjoy a proud place in the NFL annals. 

But he has something else. Wentz was injured again, and a sputtering Eagles sprung to life under Foles. A win on the road against the mighty Rams. A comeback victory over the Texans after Foles got smashed to pieces by the Mack truck dressed as Jadeveon Clowney. A playoff-clinching win over Washington in Week 17. 

And now the Double-Doink Game. While Bears fans will forever cry Cody Parkey's name as an obscenity, it was Foles who had to lead his team to a touchdown trailing 15-10 with less than 5 minutes left on the road against one of the fiercest defenses in the league. Of course he connected with Tate on a fourth-down to take the lead. And of course Parkey missed the game winner, because these are the things that have happened to the Eagles with Foles under center. 

The Eagles are into the divisional round against a Saints team that hasn't looked itself in more than a month. And if the Eagles can figure out a way to get out of New Orleans alive it leaves a Rams team they already beat with Foles this season or a Cowboys squad they see twice a year (although Dallas swept them this season). 

Tom Brady took over the '01 Patriots from injured Drew Bledsoe and built a Hall of Fame career by never looking back. New England famously won the Super Bowl over the Greatest Show on Turf, but Brady wasn't returned to backup status in '02 like Foles was. He was the starter for good. The '99 Rams rode Kurt Warner to a championship after Trent Green went down in the preseason, which set the stage for Warner's Hall of Fame career. 

Foles isn't making Canton (at least we don't think he is). Unlike the other backups who won a Super Bowl, Foles was once again stuck behind Wentz as soon as Carson was healthy. Plunkett, Hostetler, and Williams were starters the next season, but the magic ran out. Plunkett's Raiders went 7-9 in '81, like Washington and Williams did in '88. Hostetler's Giants were 8-8 in '91. All three missed the playoffs.

In the Super Bowl era, there's been two ways this story has unfolded. The backup quarterback becomes the franchise starter and goes onto a Canton career, or remains the starter the next season and crashed back to Earth. Cinderella has never been Cinderella again, maybe until this year. But if there was ever someone to shatter that glass ceiling it would be Foles, because it takes some magic dust and he's got fistfuls of it. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.