OAKLAND, Calif. — Right after he made NFL history, Nick Foles walked to midfield at O.co Coliseum, put his left knee on the turf and joined in a postgame prayer with a few other players.
Hovering over Foles was former UA teammate Juron Criner. The receiver put his hand on Foles’ shoulder, dropped his head down a few inches behind his former quarterback and smiled.
Criner had just seen his former quarterback do something accomplished by only six other players in NFL history.
Foles, a former Arizona Wildcats standout, tied an NFL single-game record with seven touchdown passes Sunday afternoon in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 49-20 win over the Oakland Raiders. The second-year pro completed 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards in the blowout win.
The win came, coincidentally, on the same day Criner — a second-year wideout for the Raiders — set a career high with 32 receiving yards.
“It was a crazy day out there and it was very special that Juron was here for this,” Foles told the Star. “It was great to have two Wildcats on the field.”
One of them stole the show.
Foles hit Riley Cooper on a 5-yard scoring pass with 4:28 left in the third quarter to join Peyton Manning, Joe Kapp, Y.A. Tittle, George Blanda, Adrian Burk and Sid Luckman as the only NFL QBs to throw seven TDs in a game.
Foles deflected much of the attention to his Eagles teammates.
“It’s such a long game and you just don’t want to get ahead of yourself,” Foles said. “You really never know. I slowed everything down and I understood what we were trying to do. Whenever I’ve looked at records throughout my whole life, the greatest part about it is the guys you do it with.
“It’s something special for the Eagles organization.”
If not for the margin of victory, Foles might have done even better. He was 15 for 19 for 260 yards and four touchdowns by halftime.
Coach Chip Kelly pulled Foles from the game with 9:23 to play and the win well in hand.
“If I put Nick out there trying to get a record and he gets hurt, that’s being silly,” Kelly said. “It’s a hell of a thing to do. Not many people in the history of the game did what he did, but we were trying to win the football game.”
The stats took a while to sink in.
Following the game, Foles walked the 50 or so feet from the Eagles locker room to the interview room with a dazed look. Dressed in an all-black Eagles sweatsuit and a green Eagles hat, Foles — owner of nine career NFL starts — was at a loss for words.
When a throng of Philly media members asked him if he had ever thrown for seven touchdowns in a game at any level, Foles smiled and said “only in a video game.”
That’s what Sunday felt like.
Foles completed passes of 63, 59, 46 and 42 yards on his record-tying day. He started 10 for 11 for 180 yards and three TDs, and seemingly never lost his hot hand.
The quarterback said he didn’t know he tied an NFL record until after Kelly took him out in the fourth quarter. It was then that an assistant coach let him know.
“You just try to stay steady throughout the whole thing,” Foles said. “I had no clue how many touchdowns I had.”
In a season of ups and downs for the former Wildcat, there likely won’t be anything that tops this. Foles was knocked out of Philadelphia’s 17-3 loss to Dallas on Oct. 20 with a concussion. He missed the team’s Oct. 27 game against the New York Giants as he recovered. The Eagles’ medical staff cleared Foles to play last Monday.
With starter Michael Vick out with a hamstring injury, Foles got the call to start against the Raiders.
Foles — who set UA career records with 10,011 passing yards, 67 passing touchdowns and 933 completions — delivered big-time on Sunday for Kelly, throwing three TD passes to Cooper, and one each to Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson.
“He played unbelievable,” said tight end Celek. “I think the stats speak for themselves.”
Simply making it to the NFL was an accomplishment. Foles became the first UA quarterback in the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) era to be selected by an NFL team when the Eagles took him in the third round of the 2012 draft.
On Sunday, Foles was more eager to talk about his alma mater than his record-tying effort.
“I still watch the UA all the time,” Foles said. “B.J. Denker has done a great job this year and has really improved. Ka’Deem Carey, I knew when I played with him (that) he was going to be a stud.”
As Foles grabbed a plate of food to take on the bus with him, he went back to Criner, who caught 28 touchdowns from Foles during his Arizona career.
“Juron and I always had a great connection,” Foles said. “I talked to him a week ago and we caught up before the game. It’s special to play with a guy like him. I think the world of him as a person and a player. We’ll always have that Arizona connection.”