Nothing quiets a quarterback controversy quite like wins. But 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions certainly helps, too.
Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles go for their fifth straight victory Sunday against the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions, an opponent which could present his toughest starting assignment yet.
"He's been a good decision type guy," Detroit safety Glover Quin said of Foles. "Not making mistakes and keeping his team in the game."
The Lions (7-5) head to Philadelphia after an extended break following their best defensive effort of the year in a 40-10 win over Green Bay on Thanksgiving. It was the fewest points they've surrendered in nearly two years, and the Packers' 126 yards of offense were the lowest by a Detroit opponent since Cincinnati had 95 on Nov. 22, 1992.
"It's just a performance we always believed we could have," defensive tackle C.J. Mosley said. "... We've got to string performances like this together."
Detroit has achieved season highs in sacks in consecutive weeks with seven against the Packers and four against Tampa Bay on Nov. 24.
While the Lions' pass rush will be on Foles' mind, the signal-caller is no longer burdened with an uncertain future.
"Because I've been asked the question a thousand times, so I will say he is the starting quarterback for the next thousand years here," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "If I'm wrong next week, then I'm wrong next week."
The constant questions might not always have easy answers, but Foles' play has simplified Kelly's short-term decision. The second-year quarterback is 5-1 as a starter this season, and he's thrown all but three of the Eagles' passes over the four-game winning streak after the team had been regularly shuffling at the position.
His season passer rating of 125.2 is tops in the NFL. Foles is one away from tying Peyton Manning's record of 20 TD passes to start a season without an interception, which was set this season. He's already set an Eagles' record for most passes without an interception (233), snapping teammate Michael Vick's previous mark of 224 set in 2010.
"I learned through making mistakes and throwing interceptions in high school, in college, and in practice," Foles said. "I try to push it in practice and test my boundaries and see what throws are capable against certain defenses. It's through a lot of mistakes that I've learned that."
The Eagles (7-5) kept pace with Dallas atop the NFC East with last Sunday's 24-21 home win over Arizona. Foles tossed three touchdowns, completing 21 of 34 attempts for 237 yards.
"He's getting better and better and making good decisions," Kelly said.
It's not just Foles. Philadelphia has turned the ball over once in the last four games while taking it away nine times. The drastic swing has corrected its turnover differential to plus-7.
The Eagles will try to win three straight at home in a single season for the first time since 2010. The victory over Arizona came a week after they beat Washington to snap a franchise-worst, 10-game home losing streak.
That slide began with a 26-23 loss to the Lions on Oct. 14, 2012, with Matthew Stafford besting Vick and throwing for 311 yards in his first career matchup with Philadelphia. The Eagles had won the previous six meetings.
Detroit overcame two more interceptions by Stafford last week, giving him 10 in five games since Oct. 27 - tied with Cincinnati's Andy Dalton for most in the league.
The Lions have committed 17 turnovers during that stretch while forcing just four, though they have three wins in that span and all have been against playoff contenders. They have a one-game division lead on Chicago, which hosts Dallas on Monday night, and own the tiebreaker over the Bears.
"We just need to take better care of the football," said Stafford, facing a Philadelphia defense which has seven INTs in the last four games. "If we can eliminate that, I feel real good about where we are."
Detroit ran for a season-best 241 yards on Thanksgiving, inching closer to its first division title since 1993 after losing consecutive games for the first time this year.
"It's easy when you lose a couple games in a row, particularly the fashion that we lost, for people to say, 'Here we go again,'" coach Jim Schwartz said. "I'm sure there were some people that were saying that, but they weren't on our sideline."
Reggie Bush had 182 total yards last week, including 117 on the ground, as the Lions improved to 5-0 when he runs for at least 90.
They're 4-0 against NFC East opponents since the start of 2011.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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