Nick Foles wasn't Super. He wasn't Special. But he was good enough.
And that's all the Eagles needed on a night when they unfurled the "2017 World Champions" banner that Foles helped the team claim, and when they looked decidedly less than they did in winning Super Bowl LII.
Foles was shaky, particularly though the first 35 minutes or so. But the quarterback maintained his composure, even when his tight ends made multiple second half mistakes, and guided the Eagles to a 18-12 win over the Falcons in the season opener at Lincoln Financial Field.
"It was one of those unique games where it's not really a rhythm thing," Foles said. "It's just that you're going to fight all game."
Backups aren't supposed to win championships, but they are supposed to win a regular-season game or two. And with Wentz possibly out for an extended period, Foles may need to tread water for longer than two games.
NFL Network reported Thursday that the Eagles were expected to be without their starter for "several" more weeks, and possibly into October. If it's another month, then that would mean Wentz won't be back until the Eagles host the Vikings on Oct. 7.
"I've seen it," Pederson said of the report, "but I'm going to investigate that a little bit more and see where and why and when that came out."
Foles' performance shouldn't factor into the Wentz decision. Once the Eagles made the choice to hold him out of the opener, there was no longer a deadline. Doug Pederson said earlier this week that Wentz had yet to be cleared for contact and that the team would not rush him back.
"You try to prepare as the starter, but it's a unique situation," Foles said. "There's where I stay in the moment, give everything I have to teammates, prepare like I always do and then we'll see what happens."
The Eagles likely breathed a collective sigh of relief after the victory. It's only one game, but the Falcons will probably be in the playoff mix, especially if they figure out their red-zone issues. Nevertheless, the Eagles won thanks in large part to Jim Schwartz's defense, which survived another Falcons last second drive inside the 5-yard line.
The game had a 2017 postseason feel. With Foles and the offense sputtering in the third quarter, Pederson called a variant of the trick play that will forever be known as "Philly Special." This one was titled, "Philly, Philly." The snap didn't go directly to Corey Clement this time, but he took the handoff from Foles, flipped to Nelson Agholor, who threw to the releasing Foles for 15 yards.
"We were both thinking of the same thing at the same time," Foles said of his conversation with Pederson before "Philly, Philly" was called. "I went over to talk to him and said, 'This might be a good time,' and he pointed at the call sheet and I was like, 'That's what I was coming over for.' Yeah, it worked again."
The Eagles, naturally, would end the drive with a touchdown. Foles' best moment — aside from the catch — was an 18-yard strike to Ertz. Two plays later, Jay Ajayi, who was conspicuously missing for most of the first half, plowed into the end zone from a yard out and the Eagles were up, 10-6.
The Eagles had to mount a comeback after a Foles pass to rookie Dallas Goedert bounced off his hands and to Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. But Foles showed the poise that made him a Super Bowl MVP and made the Eagles confident in their backup despite his struggles in this preseason.
Trailing 12-10, Foles and the Eagles went 54 yards on eight plays late into the fourth quarter. The quarterback wasn't needed much on the drive. Running backs Corey Clement and Jay Ajayi ran the final 37 yards — Ajayi getting the last 11 on a touchdown scoot. But Foles did hit Darren Sproles for nine yards on a key third and eight early in the drive.
It wasn't easy, but Matt Ryan out-uglied Foles. The Falcons quarterback and Exton, Pa., native seemed flummoxed by Schwartz's defense all evening. He now has a 1-5 record at the Linc.
>> READ MORE: The offensive line got it together right in time
Foles has won his last three here. There were a few loose tosses that could have been intercepted early in the third quarter, but if the Eagles are to repeat, they'll need their share of fortunate bounces.
In a first half that didn't win any football beauty pageants, Foles and the offense looked mostly out of sync. The results weren't as dreadful as they were in the preseason, when Foles turned the ball over on 4 of 14 possessions, but they were neither as impressive as they were the last time the Eagles played a real game.
Maybe it was the personnel. The Eagles were expected to ride Ajayi as they did in the first half of last year's playoff win over the Falcons, but he was hardly on the field. He has been dealing with a foot issue, but didn't seem to be feeling the effects after the break. Ajayi had 12 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
Sproles, who hasn't played in nearly a year, took most of the early snaps and looked rusty. He ran four times for five yards, caught two passes for seven yards and dropped a throw.
The Eagles were short two receivers with Alshon Jeffery still sidelined after shoulder surgery and Mack Hollins placed on injured reserve Thursday with a groin injury. DeAndre Carter, who wasn't even in camp for the first few days, saw more of the field than either Shelton Gibson and Markus Wheaton.
But Foles relied on Agholor. He threw to his slot receiver six times and he caught all six for 31 yards. But most of the passes were of the dink-and-dunk variety and Agholor averaged only 5.2 yards a grab.
There were two early sacks and both were basically on Foles. He got cornerback Brian Poole to show blitz with his hard count, but he inexplicably didn't account for the unblocked rusher out of slot and was sacked. A few plays later, Foles couldn't handle Jason Kelce's shotgun snap and was dropped in the backfield again.
Pederson dialed up a variety of pass plays to comfort Foles on the next series. There was a 6-yard run-pass option to Agholor, a 10-yard toss to Carter when Foles rolled out, and on an early third down, Ajayi picked up a blitz and the quarterback hit Agholor for ten yards.
The Eagles settled for a field goal, however, something they did far too often in the divisional playoff game. The rest of the first half didn't amount to much. Foles couldn't hook up with Ertz on third down and threw high and wide of Wallace down the sideline.
As poorly as the offense looked, the Eagles went to the break trailing only by 3.
Foles rebounded after a shaky first half in last year's divisional playoff win over the Falcons, but his post-break performance on the Eagles' first drive was dismal. He should have been intercepted on two occasions — first when he tried for Ertz and was off target and most egregiously when he didn't see cornerback Robert Alford on an Agholor crosser.
Alford stone-cold dropped a sure pick, though, and Foles escaped without a turnover.
Just after a thunderstorm delay and just before kickoff, the Eagles players weren't on the field when the a black curtain dropped and revealed the new championship banner. But Foles said he did allow himself one moment to reflect upon the greatest accomplishment of his career.
"When I ran out there and started warming up, I glanced up once," Foles said, " but I was so focused on just playing this game."
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