How the Eagles Defense Took Them Past the Hobbled 49ers


How the Eagles Defense Took Them Past the Hobbled 49ers

Fireworks exploded above Lincoln Financial Field as the Eagles players and coaches rushed to the end zone in excitement after Boston Scott's 10-yard rushing touchdown just before halftime. Despite 30 more minutes of play, the Eagles had a two-possession lead and their top-ranked pass rush facing a fourth-string quarterback, making the touchdown seem like the highlight of the game. The Eagles won 31-7 against the 49ers, securing their N.F.C. championship and a trip to Glendale, Arizona for their fourth Super Bowl appearance.

Philadelphia Coach Nick Sirianni thanked the passionate fans in the blue-collar city, who supported one of the most complete teams in the league this season. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles will face either Kansas City or Cincinnati, their first appearance since winning the 2017 season.

The Eagles' defense, with the most sacks (70) and fewest passing yards allowed per game (179.8) in the league, ended 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy's fairy-tale run. The Eagles scored on their opening drive, and linebacker Haason Reddick sacked Purdy, causing a fumble and injuring his throwing elbow, leading Purdy to sit out the remainder of the first half.

The 49ers only managed one scoring drive in the second quarter, which resulted in Christian McCaffrey's 23-yard rushing touchdown. Their offense faltered with Josh Johnson at quarterback, Purdy's backup. Johnson was forced to leave early in the second half due to a concussion and Purdy returned, but he was not at full strength and only had four pass attempts for 23 yards.

This marked the end of Purdy's successful run, which began in December when he was inserted into the lineup due to injuries to the first two quarterbacks. Purdy, a fifth-round draft pick, had a standout season as a rookie quarterback, winning seven games, throwing for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He had a solid supporting cast, including weapons like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and McCaffrey, and Coach Kyle Shanahan's efficient offensive scheme.

However, without Purdy, the 49ers struggled to find a rhythm with Johnson at quarterback. Johnson, a seasoned pro with experience on seven teams, completed only 7 of 13 passes for 74 yards and had a fumble. The 49ers were unable to seamlessly transition through quarterbacks like they had before.

Shanahan reported that the mood in the locker room was disappointing as the team reflected on what could have been. He stated that they were excited for the game and wanted a better opportunity to play against the Eagles.

Reddick dominated the 49ers QBs with 3 tackles and 2 sacks, highlighting the impact of key acquisitions made by Eagles GM Howie Roseman to restore the team's success.

The Eagles' defense, led by Reddick who had 3 tackles and 2 sacks, dominated the 49ers' offense, holding them to only 164 total yards. This put pressure on the 49ers' defense, which had been the top-ranked unit in the league during the regular season. The Eagles' successful signing of Reddick, as well as corner James Bradberry and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, was a key part of General Manager Howie Roseman's plan to bring the team back to prominence. The Eagles' offense also performed well, with a balanced approach, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts who had 121 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, and a touchdown. The Eagles' running backs contributed 111 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. The 49ers' struggles showed on the field, with several penalties and a fourth-quarter brawl leading to ejections of players from both teams.

The Eagles struggled with mediocrity after their Super Bowl win and were eliminated early in the playoffs in 2018, 2019, and 2021. They had a poor season in 2020, winning only four games, leading to the firing of their coach, Doug Pederson, and trading their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz.

Sirianni and Hurts made the playoffs in their first year as a duo, in 2021. Hurts faced doubts about being the franchise's cornerstone, but he put those to rest with 3,701 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 760 rushing yards with 13 scores in the regular season despite missing two games due to a shoulder injury.

Hurts credited his upbringing for his unwavering character and never getting too high or low. He was also helped by the acquisition of receiver A.J. Brown through a trade made by Roseman with Tennessee in April. With Brown's 11 touchdown catches and 1,496 receiving yards, the Eagles started the season 8-0 and finished with a 14-3 record, tied for the best in the league with Kansas City.

Roseman's effective roster building and Hurts' growth have led the Eagles to the Super Bowl after a swift rebuild. The players celebrated and the crowd sang along to "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty after the two-minute warning. The celebration was capped off with green confetti falling and the playing of Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares," a popular anthem in Philadelphia.

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