Nick Foles ties NFL record with seven touchdown passes

Nick Foles ties NFL record with seven touchdown passes

Even those folks who have been clamoring for Nick Foles to be the Eagles’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the season couldn’t have seen this coming. Foles threw more touchdown passes than incompletions in the Birds’ 49-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday, tying the NFL single-game record with seven scores.

Foles’ line: 22-of-28 for 406 yards, seven touchdowns and zero turnovers—good for a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

You tell me, Philadelphia. Do we still have a quarterback controversy on our hands?

Riley Cooper hauled in three of those touchdowns as part of a five-reception, 139-yard afternoon for the embattled wide receiver. DeSean Jackson hauled in a 63-yard bomb for six points, as he also enjoyed a huge day with five catches for 150. Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and LeSean McCoy were responsible for the rest of the Eagles’ trips to the end zone.

Foles likely could’ve broken the record, but Chip Kelly finally opted to pull the QB in the fourth quarter with the outcome having long been decided.

This was against a Raiders defense that entered the game 10th overall, 12th in points allowed. Oakland was stronger versus the run than they were the pass, but at 17th the Oakland secondary ranked right in the middle of the pack in terms of production through the air.

Such a historic performance makes Foles’ disaster against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 all the more perplexing. The second-year passer was inaccurate, hitting 37.9 percent of his passes for 80 yards in the 17-3 loss two weeks ago. Today, Foles couldn’t miss, completing 78.6 percent for 14.5 yards per attempt.

Seven touchdowns also ties the franchise record set by Adrian Burk in 1954.

After the game, Chip Kelly refused to name a starter for next week’s game at Green Bay, claiming the decision would be based on Michael Vick’s health. That should be an interesting situation to monitor.

It’s hard to know what to think about Foles, whose performances from one game to the next have been wildly erratic in nine career starts. As we’ve lobbied for in this space before though, the Eagles should ride the 24-year-old through the highs and lows and figure out whether there is any long-term value with him under center, even if long-term is only next season.

After all, only six quarterbacks in NFL history had thrown for seven touchdowns in a single game before Foles. Three of them are Hall of Famers. Peyton Manning is the only other active player to have done it.

Which Foles is for real? Who knows. Doesn’t matter right now. Only one way to find out.

Of course, the story that that takes a back seat here is the Eagles broke a two-game losing streak with their win in Oakland and remain one game back of Dallas for first place in the NFC East. We’ll see who Chip decides gives them the best chance to win next Sunday.

No doubt we'll have much more to come on Foles' historic day and the fallout from those incredible events.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

usa-brandon-bell-james-franklin.jpg
USA Today Images

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.