EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Just think how crazy it all is. Nick Foles, traded away by the Eagles three years ago for his replacement, benched twice and then unwanted by the Rams, a backup for a year with the Chiefs, returns to the team that he took to the playoffs four years ago and does this.
Foles recalled his 2013 glory days Sunday, throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Eagles' closer-than-it-should-have-been 34-29 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium (see breakdown).
In his first start in 14 months and his first in an Eagles jersey in more than three years, Foles made Carson Wentz's season-ending injury a little easier to take.
He was terrific.
“It’s really special," Foles said. "This whole journey and being back in Philly, it’s crazy, if I’m being honest.
"Just wearing the Eagles jersey. To go back to Philly and wear it, I take a lot of pride in that. I can’t say enough about our guys. They made some big plays to help with those touchdowns, but it’s a special moment for sure."
Foles completed 24 of 38 passes for 237 yards in his second career four-TD game and first since the record-setting seven-TD game in Oakland in 2013 (see Roob's observations).
This is a guy who hadn't started a game since November 2016 for the Chiefs and hadn't started a game on the road since November 2015 with the Rams.
And he became the fifth quarterback ever to throw four TD passes and no interceptions while completing 63 percent of his passes against the Giants in East Rutherford (or New York).
"He was phenomenal," Corey Clement said. "I think everybody's doubt really fueled him today. He was definitely relaxed. We depended on him, and he came up huge, just like we knew he would."
The Eagles improved to 12-2 and for the first time since the 2004 Super Bowl season clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Foles improved to 16-9 in an Eagles uniform and 15-4 since 2013.
"I thought he played well, really well," head coach Doug Pederson said. "I'm sure there are some things he would like to do over, each game is going to be that way. But I thought he handled himself extremely well. A lot of poise back there. Took some shots but bounced up."
With his four touchdowns, Foles now has 50 in an Eagles uniform. He passed Carson Wentz (49) and into 12th place in Eagles history.
“He wants to be here so bad," Foles said. "He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve played with and going out there and getting this win, I know he’s excited.”
There was one play where Foles actually looked like Wentz.
Foles isn't the slickest guy in the pocket, but he adroitly sidestepped Jason Pierre-Paul, buying himself time, then fired down the field to Torrey Smith, who drew a 32-yard pass interference down to the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Foles threw the first of his four TDs.
"I channeled my inner Carson Wentz right there," Foles said with a laugh. "Just made a play and tried to get him to move and step up, and then if the defender doesn’t hold Torrey and hold his arms down, it’s probably a touchdown, but Torrey did a great job fighting through it, we get the call, get down there and get this thing rolling."
Foles spread the ball around, with four guys finishing with between 40 and 60 yards (Jay Ajayi, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor), and four guys catching touchdowns (Jeffery, Agholor, Ertz, Trey Burton).
It was a vintage Nick Foles performance.
“You get the butterflies, for sure," Foles said. "I think any game you ever play in, you get that excitement because it’s a big stage, there’s a lot going on. But once you get on the field you just play ball.
"You live in the moment and there’s just something that comes out of you, and you just go out there and just play."
Wentz is out for the year with a torn left ACL, so this is Foles' team as long as the Eagles keep playing.
"Obviously, it sucks not having (Wentz) in there, but we knew all throughout the week, Nick would do his thing," Ajayi said.
"We just let him play his game, as you saw. He played a great one. He did his thing, just operated like we thought he would. Just threw a bunch of touchdowns today."
Foles finished with a passer rating of 115.8, his eighth career game with a rating of 115 or higher.
That's sixth-most in Eagles history, even though he's 15th in franchise history in QB starts.
He can play.
After so much disappointment in his career — he even considered retiring after the 2015 season — this was quite an emotional day for Foles.
“Huge," he said. "Just getting back out there playing a full game on the road in New York. NFC East.
"There’s definitely some things when I go back and watch it that I can clean up, absolutely. The big thing is you keep playing when something does go wrong or you miss a throw or maybe the decision wasn’t what I wanted.
"I can absolutely get better. There’s a lot to be improved on and I’m going to continue to do that."