PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles protect the ball at an unusual rate.
The Eagles (10-6) set a team record for fewest turnovers with 19 this season. That's a major reason they won the NFC East title and will host the New Orleans Saints (11-5) in a wild-card playoff game Saturday night.
Only Indianapolis (14), San Francisco (18) and Kansas City (18) had fewer turnovers and each of those teams also made the playoffs. However, only eight of Philadelphia's turnovers were made by starters. The other 11 came from current backup quarterback Michael Vick (5), third-string QB Matt Barkley (5) and former punt returner Damaris Johnson (1).
Foles threw just two interceptions and fumbled twice. McCoy, wide receiver Jason Avant and tight end Brent Celek each fumbled once. Center Jason Kelce also fumbled on a snap to Vick. Each of the other 11 starting QBs in the playoffs had more interceptions than all of Philadelphia's starters have combined giveaways.
"I just try and be as smart with the ball as I can," Foles said. "I always want to get the ball out of my hands, so a sack doesn't happen. But the one thing you don't want to do is put the ball in harm's way, because a turnover usually gives the other team good field possession and momentum. You can see what happens when a turnover happens. Everyone on the sideline is jumping around and excited. You don't want to give them momentum."
Foles had 27 touchdown passes in 10 starts, and posted the best TD/interception ratio in NFL history. He is the only quarterback to throw more than 20 TD passes and two or fewer interceptions. He joined Tom Brady (36 TDs, 4 interceptions in 2010) as the only quarterbacks to throw more than 25 touchdowns and fewer than five picks. His interception percentage (0.63) ranks as the third-lowest in league history.
"It's a credit to him in terms of what he understands to do," coach Chip Kelly said. "He doesn't really put the ball in harm's way. Very rarely do you look at it and go, 'I don't know about that one.' That's one of the reasons he's as productive as he is, is that he's really, really smart when he has the football in his hands."