PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles plays with a strong sense of inner peace because he doesn’t allow success or failure to define him.
Win or lose, he’s the same guy.
“My identity is rooted in Christ, not in my accomplishments,” Foles said a few days before he leads the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) against the Washington Redskins (7-8) in another big game.
The Eagles would earn the NFC’s final wild-card berth if they win Sunday and the Vikings (8-6-1) lose at home against the Bears (11-4).
Foles has performed well at quarterback in high-pressure situations the past two seasons while filling in for Carson Wentz. He’s 5-0 in must-win games and earned Super Bowl MVP honors in a win over New England last February.
“Playing in the Super Bowl is really a big stage but I remember staying in the moment, not worrying about the clock, not worrying about the score,” Foles said. “It was peaceful, which it shouldn’t be, but it was.”
He said he hasn’t mastered his “stay-in-the-moment” philosophy but he’s working on it daily.
“I still have to remind myself,” Foles said. “There are times you get overwhelmed, you get excited thinking about all the things you want to accomplish. … I’m still learning. I don’t have it conquered.”
The Eagles were on the verge of playoff elimination when a back injury forced Wentz out of the lineup earlier this month, but Foles came to the rescue again.
He helped the 13 ½-point underdog Eagles beat the Los Angeles Rams 30-23 on the road, and set a franchise-record with 471 yards passing in a 32-30 comeback win over Houston last week.
Teammates have raved about Foles’ leadership skills and confidence.
“He’s extremely calm. He’s always exuding positivity,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “He’s playing at an extremely high level. We love playing for him.”
Foles doesn’t get flustered when things go wrong. He doesn’t call out guys on the sideline or argue with coaches.
“There will be mistakes. I might throw a pick. I might fumble,” he said. “But what are we gonna do? That’s where we need to react and be confident and be positive.”
Staying consistent on and off the field is important to Foles.
“When I step in the huddle, I’m not going to change, when we’re at a restaurant or out in public (I’m not going to change),” he said. “I want to be who I am. I want to be genuine, and I think that’s a powerful thing. “
Foles is 22-7 as a starter for the Eagles over two stints since his rookie season in 2012. He has experienced plenty of highs and lows — he was traded by the Eagles in 2015 and released by the Rams in 2016 — during his seven seasons in the NFL and now faces an uncertain future.
The Eagles are committed to Wentz as their franchise quarterback so they’re expected to decline an option to pay Foles $20 million in 2019, allowing him to become a free agent. Foles became emotional talking about the possibility he has played his last game in Philadelphia.
“This city means a lot to me, this team means a lot to me, wearing that jersey means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m very grateful for every opportunity to play here, to play in front of our fans, to wear that jersey no matter what. No one can ever take that away from me.”
Wherever Foles goes, fans in Philadelphia will always consider him a hero for winning the franchise’s first Vince Lombardi Trophy.
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