LOS ANGELES – The Philadelphia Eagles already knew that Nick Foles could do that.
After all, it was only last December when the veteran defender replaced the injured Carson Wentz and disrupted the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum. Less than two months after this groundbreaking game, he was an unlikely Super Bowl MVP.
A season later, in the same arena, Foles returned to the place of Wentz in the center after three months without action in the game.
The Fols readily recaptured the spell by running 270 yards and leading the Eagles to a 30-23 victory over the Rams on Sunday night with much help from their defense and their players.
The Fola encore may not end up in the Super Bowl again. It may not even include the playoffs. But after guiding Philadelphia to another win with a grace and a stance that belies their inactivity, the Eagles are happy to have him back in the game.
"It has been very emotional," said Foles, who made 24 of 31 with an interception. "What you've done in the past, what I've done in the past, it does not matter when you step in that field." It's a new day, so I was dealing with the emotions, but getting ready as much as I could, and then realizing that I'm not alone. I have great teammates out there. All I have to do is spread the ball, support them, stay in the moment, and we were able to to do it tonight. Today was a great victory for us. "
Wendell Smallwood raced for two touchdowns and rookie Josh Adams raced to another score as the Eagles (7-7) kept playoff hopes fairly viable with a win over Rams (11-3), who lost consecutive games of the regular season for the first time in the mandate of coach Sean McVay.
Foles has not played since week 2, but Wentz is out with a back injury that could knock him out for the rest of the season. Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson declined to say whether the Foles would start next week against Houston but Foles teammates know what they have after returning to the role in a simplified offensive game plan.
"This is a guy with real character," said Smallwood on Fols. "We're just comfortable with him back there, we do not feel like anything's fallen, we know he's going to go up there and get the job done." We set up that guy and we stayed with him (last year), and he left and rang for us tonight. "
The Eagles still follow Dallas, the NFC East leader (8-6), and are even sitting with Washington (7-7), so they will need help to return to the postseason, probably from Carolina and Minnesota stumbling in the final stretch . But they will have a huge boost to become the first team to beat the Rams twice under McVay.
"It's very gratifying," Pederson said. "Our back is against the wall in the last few weeks and I hope that gives us strength for the rest of the season.
The Eagles scored 17 consecutive points in the third quarter and then survived the Rams' high final. After Philadelphia's Jake Elliott missed a 1:08 field goal for the match, Jared Goff took the Rams to Philadelphia 18 with 4 seconds left – but he was unable to connect with Josh Reynolds in a pass to the goal.
Goff went through 339 yards with two interceptions in Rams' first loss at the Coliseum in seven games this season.
Todd Gurley raced for two touchdowns – giving him the top 21 NFL TDs this season – while taking 10 passes for 76 yards. But the behind-the-scenes superstar also took the blame for not being able to leave the field in the final 20 seconds, depriving the Rams of two additional shots in the final zone.
"We have to be able to figure it out fast," McVay said. "We're doing things that are not characteristic of us. Guys are making decisions and making mistakes we do not normally see."
The Rams have already won the NFC West title and still control their fate for the first-round playoff with Chicago (10-4) right behind them. But Los Angeles has also produced three pedestrian performances since the epic 54-51 victory Monday night over Kansas City last month and a week later.
"It's good to have some adversity at some point," said Goff, who has not made a TD pass since his first start in Detroit. "Going through that now, and in the playoff position, we (still) have to be urgent to fix these things. These things are very easy to fix."
Foles repeatedly connected with Alshon Jeffery, who had eight sacks per 160 yards in the third-game play of his career. Zach Ertz has had three receptions to become the tight final quarter in NFL history with 100 receptions in a season.
Eagles: DT Fletcher Cox went to the locker room in a stroller during the first half with a hip injury but returned to the field before the break.
Rams: Gurley lost several snaps in the second half with a knee injury but returned.
Eagles: Receive the Houston Texans on Sunday, December 23. Houston can finish the AFC South with a win.
Rams: Visit the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, December 23. LA exclaimed the cardinals of the Colosseum in September.
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