By Max Harper
The awful Fox announcers kept making excuses for the Niners and their injuries.
But the Eagles were better.
The Eagles knocked out the 49ers’ two quarterbacks in the NFC championship game.
49ers rookie Brock Purdy injured his right elbow on a hit from Haason Reddick that resulted in a fumble, and Purdy couldn’t continue. Josh Johnson replaced him, until he was hit on a pass attempt and suffered a concussion when the back of his head hit the turf. Purdy had to come back in the game, despite an injured throwing elbow. The 49ers offense couldn’t move the ball and the quarterback situation was the biggest part of that, but remember to give the Eagles defense some credit too.
The Eagles offense gets a lot of headlines. The defense, which led the NFL in sacks, has been underrated most of the season. That will change in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
Eagles are moving on to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history after the 31-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Eagles previously appeared in Super Bowls XV, XXXIX and LII. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl championship in their third appearance, with coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles. When the Eagles knocked off the New England Patriots for that championship, Nick Sirianni had just taken a job as the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator and Jalen Hurts was coming off his sophomore season at Alabama.
Sirianni and Hurts will lead Philadelphia to Super Bowl LVII, a testament to how well general manager Howie Roseman restocked the Eagles on the fly. Some of his best work was putting together the defense that was key to Sunday’s win.
The first quarter was bizarre. The Eagles scored a touchdown on a Miles Sanders run after officials didn’t notice DeVonta Smith actually dropped what looked like a great one-handed catch on fourth down, and the 49ers didn’t challenge it. The 49ers lost Purdy to an elbow injury on a play in which his arm was hit and he fumbled, though it was initially called an incomplete pass. The hit came from Reddick, the Eagles’ key free-agent addition of the offseason who had a great NFC championship game. The Eagles had a punt that looked like it hit the Skycam but officials didn’t see it and had no video evidence of it.
It was one of the most eventful first quarters you’ll see, and the Eagles led 7-0 at the end of it.
The 49ers tied it up on a great run by Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was seemingly stopped three times, but he broke tackles and avoided others and ran 23 yards for the score and a tie game.
The Eagles were on the ropes a bit. They hadn’t moved the ball since their first drive. The 49ers had tied it and seemed to be settling in with Johnson at quarterback. Then came a huge drive.
The Eagles drove 75 yards on 14 plays. It was kept alive on a questionable pass interference call and capped with Sanders’ second touchdown. The Eagles’ line finally started opening up some holes and Philly hit a few key runs. It took 6:53 off the clock.
Then the Eagles got a huge gift before halftime. A shotgun snap hit Johnson in the hands but he dropped it. Johnson couldn’t recover right away and Reddick recovered at the 49ers’ 30-yard line. Boston Scott scored a 10-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left before halftime and the Eagles had a 21-7 lead.