Just before halftime, Boston Scott of the Philadelphia Eagles raced unopposed for a 10-yard running touchdown at Lincoln Financial Field, sending off pyrotechnics as the Eagles’ players and coaches rushed into the end zone in joy.
Even with 30 minutes left on Sunday, the Eagles’ two-possession lead and the best pass rush in the NFL against a backup quarterback seemed to seal the victory. In order to win the NFC championship and go to Glendale, Arizona for the team’s fourth Super Bowl appearance, the Philadelphia Eagles maintained their edge over the San Francisco 49ers, winning 31-7.
This season, the Eagles have been one of the league’s most complete teams, and they proved it once again on Sunday. With the win, they will face either Cincinnati or Kansas City in their first Super Bowl since winning it all in the 2017 season.
You can tell how fervently this city cheers on this squad. Philadelphia’s coach, Nick Sirianni, said in a post-game news conference, “We’re incredibly appreciative for these fans. Take a look at this place. There is no other location like this in the NFL. Residents of the city are hard labourers and blue-collar employees. In our perspective, it is the team we have.
The Eagles defence, which completed the regular season with the most sacks (70) and the fewest passing yards per game (179.8) in the league, ended Brock Purdy’s Cinderella run for the 49ers quarterback. After the Eagles had scored on their first drive with around seven minutes remaining in the first quarter, linebacker Haason Reddick sacked Purdy, resulting in a turnover. Purdy sustained a right throwing elbow injury during the play, necessitating his absence for the remainder of the first half.
The 49ers offence only had one good scoring drive in the second quarter, which culminated in a 23-yard rushing score by running back Christian McCaffrey, with Josh Johnson acting as Purdy’s backup. Johnson left the game early in the second half due to a concussion, therefore Purdy’s return to the game was plainly affected. All game long, Purdy attempted four passes. The total distance of the completions was 23 yards.
The 49ers’ top two quarterbacks on the depth chart, Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, both sustained injuries, ending the impressive run Purdy had been in command of since December. Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, fared admirably in his seven appearances as a starter, throwing for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just four interceptions throughout the regular season.
He was just the sixth rookie quarterback to start in a conference championship game, thanks to good coaching and a quality squad. He benefited from having a strong supporting cast, which included the adaptable McCaffrey, who was acquired in a trade with general manager John Lynch in October, receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, tight end George Kittle, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s plan, which combined effective running with allowing passing targets to gain yards after the catch.
Johnson, an eighth-year veteran with seven teams, was unable to create a rhythm for the 49ers’ offence without Purdy. Johnson completed just 7 of his 13 throws for 74 yards before exiting the game. He also fumbled on a bad snap, which the Eagles recovered. Finally, Shanahan was able to swap quarterbacks without any problems.
According to Shanahan, there was a particularly gloomy vibe in the locker room as players and staff reflected on what could have been.
According to Shanahan, we were quite excited for today and pretty ready to take on that team. Despite the fact that they made some wise choices, we hoped we had a somewhat better chance than we had at the moment.
Reddick, who finished with three tackles and two sacks, tortured both San Francisco quarterbacks and served as an illustration of the critical transactions and signings made in free agency that general manager Howie Roseman orchestrated to revitalise the Eagles.
Reddick committed to the Eagles before the season began. He accomplished this with cornerback James Bradberry and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, both of whom the Giants had dismissed in May. These three were the leaders of a defence that terrorised the 49ers and limited their offence to only 164 yards. As a consequence, there was a lot of emphasis on the 49ers defence, which finished the regular season as the top-ranked squad in the league.
“We honestly felt there was a good possibility,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said during a news conference with reporters in the Eagles’ locker room. “But you’ve got to have the right players, and we have the right individuals. They are outstanding.
The Eagles’ offence seemed to be doing well on Sunday. As it did throughout the season, it adopted a balanced approach and profited from the 49ers’ premature penalties. Jalen Hurts, a third-year quarterback who excelled in his second full season as the starter, only managed 121 passing yards, but he extended plays with his legs by rushing for 39 yards and a touchdown. In the first quarter, DeVonta Smith caught a pass from him with one hand, but it seemed like Smith was unable to maintain hold of the ball as he fell to the ground. He also manoeuvred the ball through little gaps. Shanahan said that he considered raising the challenge flag but decided against it since the footage was not clear.
Against a 49ers squad that had only allowed 77.7 rushing yards per game during the regular season, the second-fewest in the league, a quartet of Eagles running backs—Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, and Scott—combined for 111 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The 49ers started to disintegrate in their players’ actions as well as on the scoreboard. After a play in the fourth quarter, linebacker Dre Greenlaw was penalised for unsportsmanlike conduct for hitting a running back while the ball was still in his grasp, and safety Talanoa Hufanga was penalised for striking Hurts after he had stepped out of bounds. The fourth quarter brawl between Trent Williams, a San Francisco offensive lineman, and K’Von Wallace, a Philadelphia safety, resulted in both players being ejected.
The Eagles lost only four games in 2020 and fell into mediocrity after winning the Super Bowl. They also failed to make the playoffs in 2018 and 2019. They made a clear effort to rebuild after trading quarterback Carson Wentz, a first-round pick from 2016, after the 2020 campaign. Additionally, they fired Doug Pederson, their coach.
Despite the fact that Sirianni and Hurts made the playoffs in their first season together, in 2021, Hurts had concerns about his ability to function as the franchise’s lynchpin coming into this season. Despite missing two games due to a shoulder injury, he ran for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing for 3,701 yards and 22 other scores throughout the regular season, which reinforced his argument.
Hurts said, “I think my character — I’ve been raised to be who I am,” at a post-game news conference.
The character does not change along with the times. I always try to give my utmost while keeping a good balance between my high and low emotions.
Additionally, Hurts benefited from Roseman’s acquisition of receiver A.J. Brown in a trade with Tennessee in April. Brown collected 1,496 receiving yards and 11 touchdown receptions. The Eagles equaled Kansas City for the best record in the league with a 14-3 overall record and an 8-0 start.
The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl because to Roseman’s roster composition and Hurts’ rapid progress after a swift rebuild. The celebration officially began after the two-minute warning when the players began to dance and the spectators began to sing along to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Then, as green confetti began to rain, loud music from the rapper Meek Mill’s song “Dreams and Nightmares,” which has come to represent the city of Philadelphia, was played.