Backup Quarterbacks Face-Off For Super Bowl Berth
When the season began, not many saw a Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings matchup in the NFC Championship on the horizon. Even fewer people thought we would see a matchup of backup quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Case Keenum. Both Foles and Keenum picked up their first career postseason victories last weekend. They’ve had different journeys but find themselves in a position most backup quarterbacks fantasize about in their dreams.
On Saturday night, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles silenced his critics as he led the Eagles to a 15-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Foles completed 76% of his passes and threw for 246 passing yards. After struggling versus the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, he managed to pull it together against the Falcons. In fact, in his two career postseason games, Foles has not turned the ball over, and he has completed 73% of his passes. The Eagles defense stifled the Falcons offense limiting them to just 281 yards of offense. The defense put the finishing touches on the game with a goal-line stand. On fourth and goal from the two-yard line, cornerback Jalen Mills had excellent coverage on Julio Jones as the pass sailed high.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum in his first career playoff start delivered a play for the ages. A 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired to give the Vikings their first NFC Championship Game appearance since 1998. Keenum also had a great day throwing the ball. He threw for 318 passing yards and a touchdown in the Vikings’ 29-24 win over the New Orleans Saints. The Vikings jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but the Saints recovered to take a 24-23 lead. Keenum delivered just like he had all season and helped guide the Vikings to the NFC Championship game.
From St. Louis To Kansas City To Philly
In 2015 the Eagles traded Nick Foles to St. Louis in exchange for quarterback Sam Bradford. Foles would go on to start 11 games for the Rams throwing seven touchdowns and ten interceptions. Keenum was acquired from the Houston Texans, via trade during the 2015 offseason. He joined the Rams as a backup to Nick Foles. Foles would start the first ten games before Keenum was given the starting job in Week 11. The following season Foles was cut by the team, and after contemplating retirement, he decided to reunite with Andy Reid in Kansas City. Foles would spend the 2016-2017 season in Kansas City before returning to Philadelphia.
Keenum officially became the man in St. Louis. The Rams got off to a 3-1 start, but things quickly went south afterward. The Rams went on to finish the 2015-2016 season with a 4-12 record, which secured the franchise with the number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. In need of a fresh start, the Rams selected quarterback Jared Goff from the University of California with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. With Goff now primed to be the top dog in Los Angeles, Keenum’s days were numbered. Keenum started the first nine games before Goff was announced the starter by the team. Keenum was eventually released by the Rams after the season, but he didn’t last long in the market as he signed a one year deal with the Vikings in late March.
It's been a long and winding road to the NFC Championship Game for Nick Foles & Case Keenum. pic.twitter.com/Wr4Uuv7JaS
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) January 19, 2018
Injury Leads To Opportunity
Many thought 2017 would be Sam Bradford’s breakout year. He got off to a hot start in Week 2 versus New Orleans, throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Bradford suffered a knee injury, which allowed Keenum the chance to start Week 3 against Pittsburgh. With Bradford ailing, Keenum would go on to guide Minnesota to a 12-2 record and finish the season with 22 passing touchdowns.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was in the midst of an MVP season. He had already set numerous franchise records and had the Eagles in position for a deep playoff run. Things changed after Wentz suffered a torn ACL in Week 14. Foles entered the game against the Los Angeles Rams and helped the Eagles get a 43-35 victory over the Rams. The following week Foles threw four touchdowns in a 31-29 win over the New York Giants. After picking up his first career playoff victory, the Eagles are now only one win away from Super Bowl LII. Both backup quarterbacks will be looking to achieve the most significant team victories of their football careers.
The Winners Take All
The Eagles and Vikings met last season in Philadelphia with Wentz and Bradford at the helm. The Eagles handed an undefeated Vikings team a 21-10 loss at the Linc. The last time Foles faced the Vikings with the Eagles was during the 2013 season. The Eagles lost the game 48-30 away at the U.S. Bank Stadium. Something has to give on Sunday night as the Vikings are looking to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1977. The Eagles will be looking to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 2004. The last playoff matchup between these two teams resulted in a 26-14 Eagles win in the 2008 wildcard round. Everything is on the line as these backup quarterbacks, and former teammates square off in South Philadelphia with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
“Article originally posted on Tha Sports Junkies 101.”
Featured image by NFC Championship Game / Flickr