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Foles hopes to replicate previous backup QB Super Bowl upsets


BLOOMINGTON, MINN. — Tom Brady vs. Nick Foles is one of the most lopsided quarterback mismatches in Super Bowl history.

Is it the worst?


Terry Bradshaw vs. Vince Ferragamo. Peyton Manning vs. Rex Grossman. Steve Young vs. Stan Humphries. Troy Aikman vs. Neil O’Donnell. John Elway vs. Chris Chandler.

So much from which to choose.

But then again, Jeff Hostetler, a backup, was not supposed to beat Jim Kelly. Doug Williams, another backup, was not supposed to beat John Elway. Brady, yet another backup, in his first Super Bowl, was not supposed to beat Kurt Warner.

To put Brady vs. Foles into perspective, Foles was 13 years old when Brady won his first Super Bowl. Foles doesn’t even remember watching the game. Brady is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Foles is not even the best quarterback on his team.

“It’s just a different road, different paths,” Foles said Tuesday. “I’m a lot younger in my career. He’s done a lot of great things in his career that a lot of young players like myself watched him growing up. But then you take your own path. Obviously, Tom Brady is one of the greatest to play the game.”

Although Foles doesn’t have the resume, the Eagles do have good skill position players, an offensive line that protects and a defense that can wreck a game, especially if Fletcher Cox pressures Brady up the middle. Foles is also coming off a spectacular effort in the NFC Championship game against the Vikings, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns.

If Nick Foles can play like he did against the Vikings, the Eagles will have a real chance in the Super Bowl.

If Nick Foles can play like he did against the Vikings, the Eagles will have a real chance in the Super Bowl.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Foles is 29 now and been to Philadelphia and back, having the best season of his career with the Eagles in 2013, getting traded to the Rams in 2015, signing with the Chiefs in 2016 after nearly retiring and then returning to Philly this season.

He fit comfortably into the role of veteran mentor for Carson Wentz, who was having an MVP season before he tore his ACL and MCL in the 13th game. The Eagles to that point were the best team in the NFL.

Foles wasn’t even thinking about stepping in and playing the role of Jeff Hostetler with the Giants in 1990. Hoss took over after Phil Simms broke his foot in the 14th game and led the Giants to their second Super Bowl title.

The reason Hoss’ success didn’t cross Foles’ mind besides being just 2 years old?

He’d never heard of him.

“I’m not a huge history buff,” he said.

Foles hadn’t done much after breaking his collarbone midway through the 2014 season. He was traded to the Rams in the offseason for Sam Bradford and things were so miserable in 2015 that he requested the Rams release him. After drafting Jared Goff, the Rams also had Case Keenum and let Foles leave.

Even so, Foles gave serious consideration to quitting. Stepping away from the game, he said, “was in my heart at the time.”

Tom Brady and the Patriots are the obvious favorites, but it would be unwise to count out the Eagles.

(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

He went on a fishing trip with his brother-in-law and when he came back home, he talked things over with his wife. “I still didn’t have a clear decision what I wanted to do,” he said. “There wasn’t a sure path. I knew I would have more growth as a person going back to the game.”

Several teams wanted to sign him, including the Chiefs. Andy Reid drafted Foles in the third round for the Eagles in 2012. “I knew he’s a man who always believed in me no matter what has gone on in my career,” he said. “I knew if I went and played for him and gave it one more shot, if I had joy in there, he could bring it back out. He sure did.”

Although Foles played in only three games with one start and threw only 55 passes for the Chiefs, he loved his time there. His passion for the game resurfaced and he turned that into a two-year deal with the Eagles. He had been with Philly coach Doug Pederson his rookie year with the Eagles and embraced going back.

Foles had appeared in just two games and attempted only four passes when Wentz was hurt diving into the end zone for a touchdown against the Rams that was called back. It appeared the Eagles were in big trouble. They wrapped up the No. 1 seed but then were underdogs at home to the Falcons and Vikings.

Wentz and Foles are very good friends and that has helped keep their relationship strong as Foles has taken Wentz’s team to the Super Bowl.

“Any time you step in for a guy when he gets injured is tough because you never want to see anyone get injured,” Foles said. “I work with Carson every single day. I feel for him. We’re people. We care for one another You see the true test of a man’s character when things like this happen. Carson is a man of high character. We all see that now. I knew it before. For him to go through this trial in his life is a big one. Just how he’s handled it has been amazing.”

Foles threw four TD passes against the Giants in his first start but he struggled against the Raiders the next week. He played sparingly against the Cowboys in the final regular season game and put up only 15 points in the divisional round victory over the Falcons. His breakout game against the Vikings has Philly confident again.

Remember, Foles was at his best four years ago after Michael Vick was injured. If he plays as well against the Patriots as he did against the Vikings, maybe this won’t be such a mismatch.