PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Foles has already reached a point where mistakes are rare and strong performances are expected.
Not bad for someone with 12 career starts. Foles threw three touchdown passes and the defense stiffened late to help the Philadelphia Eagles hold on for a 24-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Eagles (7-5) won their fourth straight game to remain tied with Dallas for first place in the NFC East. They're 5-1 when Foles starts. Foles, the NFC's Player of the Month in November, set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick's mark of 224 set in 2010. He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning's record of 20 TD passes and zero interceptions to start a season.
Foles' last throw Sunday was intercepted by Patrick Peterson at the Philadelphia 43 late in the fourth quarter, but the play was negated by a holding penalty on Tyrann Mathieu. That poor decision was more surprising than any of Foles' TD throws.
"I need to be smart with the football and maybe just take a sack right there," Foles said. Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TD passes, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals (7-5) had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Zach Ertz had two TD catches, LeSean McCoy ran for 79 yards and the Eagles continued their worst-to-first push. They were 4-12 last season in Andy Reid's last year as coach. The Cardinals took over at their 10 with 2:08 left. But Palmer misfired on third-and-5, and Bradley Fletcher knocked down a pass to Michael Floyd on fourth down.
Five things we learned in Philadelphia's win over Arizona: EAGLES LBs ADJUST WELL: Trent Cole and Brandon Graham got off to slow starts after switching from defensive end to linebacker. They're starting to get comfortable in Bill Davis' 3-4 system and getting results. Both players had two sacks apiece and Philadelphia's LBs had five against Palmer.
"It's a lot of different, but I told myself in the beginning of the year that I'm just going to make it work regardless," said Cole, who has five sacks in the last four games after getting zero in first eight.
CARSON THE GUNSLINGER: Palmer sure puts the ball up for grabs. He threw two more interceptions and could've had a couple more picked. Palmer has 19 interceptions this season, which is second to Geno Smith's 20.
"The first one I didn't see. The second one wasn't a good throw," Palmer said. PUNTING EDGE: Philadelphia's Donnie Jones had seven punts inside the 20, one short of tying the NFL single-game record. Jones nailed one punt 69 yards and consistently pinned the Cardinals deep in their territory. Jones, in his first season with the Eagles, entered the game seventh in the league with a net average of 40.9 yards per punt. He strengthened his case for a third trip to the Pro Bowl with his effort against Arizona.
"I changed up last year and went to a rugby-style punt," Jones said. "You can hit those really hard and they don't travel as far." CARDS MISSED ELLINGTON: :Losing rookie running back Andre Ellington, who injured his left knee late in Thursday's practice, was a significant blow to Arizona's offense. Ellington has 688 yards from scrimmage and averages 6 yards per carry.
"He's just very unique and you have certain things built in for him, especially against this team we had things we really liked," Palmer said. ERTZ, CELEK EQUAL MISMATCHES: Foles took advantage of tight ends Zach Ertz and Brett Celek being faster than Arizona's safeties. Yeremiah Bell and Tyrann Mathieu are stronger against the run than they are in pass coverage. Ertz and Celek combined for 10 catches for 97 yards and three TDs.
"We thought we'd be used a little more because of the way they play their defense," Ertz said. "They put a lot of safeties on us in man coverage and we think against any safety we can get open." NOTES: Cardinals are 0-8 when seeking their fifth win in row since 1977. ... Eagles S Earl Wolff missed his second straight game with a knee injury. ... Nate Allen's INT was his first since the last game of the 2011 season. ... Eagles LB Najee Goode left the game with a hamstring injury.
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