Nick Foles finds some joy in a tough season
Starting on short notice, he warmed up in the second half and ended with another Nick Foles moment — a six-play, 80-yard drive to beat the Seahawks 25-24. “There’s no vindication,” he said. “I just did my job.”
SEATTLE — Nick Foles’ career has been all about being at the right place at the right time. When he’s there, he’s phenomenal. When he’s not, he’s below average.
The venerable Bears quarterback found that sweet spot again Sunday — following a week of uncertainty at the end of a difficult season. Coming in cold — he didn’t find out he was starting until Friday — Foles struggled to find a groove for the Bears’ offense in the first half against the Seahawks.
But he did what he does best — hung in there and kept the faith. And sure enough, there he was, having another one of those Nick Foles moments — where the Hall of Fame quarterback on the other sideline is overthrowing receivers, Foles’ teammates are breaking tackles and making plays, his own fumbles are recovered by teammates, the opposing kicker misses the field goal that could have been fatal, he draws a roughing penalty, the momentum is on his side and everybody in his huddle believes in him.
It wasn’t the Super Bowl, but it was a classic Foles moment. So on third-and-goal from the Seahawks’ 15-yard line with 1:07 left and the Bears trailing by a touchdown, the rest was familiar if not predictable — Foles threw two pinpoint passes and his receivers made two outstanding, leaping catches. A 15-yard touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham, followed by an even tougher catch by wide receiver Damiere Byrd in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion gave the Bears a deserving 25-24 victory.
And Foles was a hero again. His passer rating was 77.4 in the first half, 114.4 in the second half and a perfect 158.3 on the six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that won the game.
“I’m just grateful for my teammates,” Foles said. “Our locker room has always been great. The last couple of years haven’t been the easiest. But you can always find joy in little things every day — like going to work and being in the locker room with the guys who care for one another.
“Being able to throw a touchdown to my lockermate Jimmy Graham — who is right next to me for these last two years and we’ve gone through a lot in Chicago — I thought that was really special. He’s been a great teammate. So I’m really proud of my teammates and just happy we got his win. There’s no vindication. I just did my job.”
Foles’ key role in the victory — even a relatively meaningless one — would seem like vindication for a former Super Bowl MVP who was demoted to third string by a team that can’t get the quarterback right.
Playing behind Andy Dalton and Justin Fields, Foles in a preseason news conference seemed to be begging for his former coach Frank Reich with the Colts to trade for him. He wanted to play. So when the trade deadline passed without a deal, Foles figured to be at least a little miffed.
“No,” he said firmly. “I never requested a trade. If a team wanted to trade for me, I would look at it. [The Bears] were like, ‘If there’s a team you want to go to then we can talk. And if there’s a team you don’t want to go to, then we’re not going to do it.’
“Teams were wanting to trade, but it’s a crazy business and we were banged up. I’m glad I got to spend this year with my teammates in Chicago. I don’t know what the future holds. This is my 10th year and these two years in this locker room have been really special with those guys.”
True to any Foles moment, he was candid about his two-year trial in Chicago. When the Bears’ offense was foundering against the Browns in Week 3 — 47 total yards and nine sacks — Foles was caught on the sideline saying, ‘‘This offense isn’t working.’’
“Yeah, the offense was not working that day,” Foles said. “I love this question because everyone was thinking it at the time.”