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Final observations: Eagles 31, 49ers 7

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The Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl following a 31-7 punking of the 49ers that caused the visitors to spend most of the second half in meltdown mode. Treasure this, Philadelphia, because you don’t get many who are so good they cause on-field tantrums from the opponent.

Here’s what I saw.

The Good

• Late in the season, the “Jalen Hurts is a system quarterback” argument appeared to be dead, with Philadelphia limping into the playoffs after a Hurts-less stretch cost them multiple opportunities to clinch home-field advantage. He has more than proven his merit as the leader of this offense. But with Hurts in the midst of a bad game, the NFC Championship Game drove home that the Eagles are in the hands of a very good head coach, one who might not buckle under the pressure late in the year.

It’s easy to be aggressive on fourth down — or even just say you want to be aggressive on fourth down — when you’re an ascending team, or a first-year coach just looking to turn things around. Once you become the No. 1 seed with a target on your back, there are plenty of football coaches who fall back on conventional wisdom and lose the spirit that carried them to winning campaigns. This is the position Sirianni finds himself in, and as of this moment, he has not blinked. On two different occasions in the first half, Sirianni chose to challenge San Francisco’s might on fourth-down plays, and he ended up on the winning side both times. 

Instead of fearing how momentum was working against them, he made choices to seize it back, and two out of their three scoring possessions in the first half came after he opted to go for it on fourth down. And one of those plays was a fourth-and-one call at Philadelphia’s own 34-yard line — there are only a small handful of coaches in the league who would go for it in that situation, and the Eagles employ one of them. That willingness to push the envelope is part of what powered Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run under Doug Pederson.

Two years into his tenure, Sirianni has pushed the Eagles to the biggest game in the sport.

• The story of this game, and I’m not sure there’s a close second, was Philadelphia’s pass rush. The cheap way to downplay Philadelphia’s win to go to the Super Bowl is to call it a win over a team playing a “fourth-string QB,” pointing out that they struggled on offense for a lot of the game. That would be a more compelling argument if the Eagles did not personally knock two different quarterbacks out of the game. Brock Purdy did not leave the game because he played poorly, because he suffered a non-contact injury, or because his body simply gave out on him. Purdy was sent to the locker room because Haason Reddick beat the brakes off of his matchup on the outside, and inflicted pain on Purdy that made it impossible for him to impact the game. Whether that’s what anyone wanted to see happen or not, it is what happened.

Reddick could not have dreamed of a bigger, better return home than the season he has put together this year. It took a couple of games for Reddick and the rest of the pass rush to get rolling, but they have been an overwhelming force ever since, growing even more terrifying as they move deeper into the season. Scooping up Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh in the middle of the season increasingly looks like a masterstroke for Howie Roseman, as their additions in the middle of the line have given Philadelphia further depth and additional production, supplementing the high-end talent they already had.

With the Niners in a miserable place behind center, San Francisco’s gameplan became as predictable as it gets in the second half, Purdy’s return basically signaling that the Niners were going to have to try to just run through Philadelphia to win this game. There was no real interest in throwing the ball downfield from Kyle Shanahan, and that made it easy enough for the Birds to contain the run and funnel Christian McCaffery and Deebo Samuel toward multiple tacklers at a time.

We’ve had some very serious conversations about the impact of football on the human body in recent years, with some people checking out of the sport entirely as the risks of playing have become clearer. But as long as it is played, football is going to be a sport about inflicting pain on the opponent. That’s the reality of the game. And for four quarters on Sunday, the Eagles beat the hell out of the 49ers in the trenches. They created San Francisco’s quarterback problem all by themselves, even though I’m sure they didn’t come in with a plan to injure anybody. 

• There are people who can break down Philadelphia’s dominance in the trenches better than I could, but the Eagles won an NFC Championship game with pretty poor QB play because they absolutely mauled San Francisco in the trenches. You are not going to see many better groups than this one in your lifetime, unless Cam Jurgens eventually steps into Jason Kelce’s shoes and runs with them.

It’s an embarrassment of riches for Hurts and the running backs to play behind. Lane Johnson is one of the single-best players in the NFL, and you can hardly tell he is playing through a serious injury right now. Jordan Mailata is a gigantic, athletic brick wall opposite Johnson. Kelce is one of the most unique talents at his position in the history of sports. They’re likely to have a changing of the guard (pun intended) in the offseason, but no problems to deal with there right now.

These guys are so good that it feels like borderline cheating at times. Now let’s just see if they make it to the big game completely healthy…

• Philadelphia’s biggest question mark heading into the Super Bowl appears to be the physical state of their quarterback. He missed quite a few throws that he has made basically all season, and he also looked a bit nervous in the pocket at times, running himself into trouble and big hits that they would have liked to avoid. Whether he can out-duel Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow in a Super Bowl is something we’ll only know in two weeks.

But before we get there, it’s worth a moment of our time to say this dude is a tough SOB. While clearly not at 100 percent, he was still out there in the third quarter of this game putting his body on the line, running through some absolutely brutal tackles, and still calling his own number on the next play. He took a late hit while running out of bounds on a nice gainer late in the third, and rather than going away from him, the Eagles lined up in the middle of the field and dared the Niners to stop their QB from scoring on a sneak. Advantage Eagles:

This was far off of the standard that Hurts set all season, but his career has been a case study in caring about the success of the group over individual accolades. I can’t imagine he cares much about an off day, because that off day came attached to the best team achievement he has as a professional. And now, he has two weeks to get his mind and body right.

(A quick footnote: Hurts now officially has the best rushing QB season of all-time, with 15 TDs on the ground between the regular season and playoffs. Hell of a thing.)

• It hasn’t always been clear what Kenneth Gainwell’s purpose has been on Philly’s roster, or perhaps it’s fairer to say that having a pair of small, dual-threat runners on the depth chart has always felt a bit strange. But Gainwell has been one of the stars of Philadelphia’s playoff run so far, and he followed up a huge outing vs. New York with another rock-solid effort against the Niners.

• The Eagles are marching into the Super Bowl and have received little resistance on their way to the big game. There will be plenty of people who use that as an opportunity to dump on their credentials and dismiss their achievements. And I want you to remember that none of that matters at all. Do not engage dumb people who make these claims, and do not spend a drop of anger or emotion on those people.

From start to finish, the Eagles have done whatever it takes to put themselves in a position for postseason success. They have been a complete team all year, boasting an MVP-caliber QB, a historic defensive line, an offensive line with multiple Hall of Fame candidates, an elite cornerback duo, and maybe the best 1-2 WR combo in their history.

Plenty of people will forget all of that if they lose in the Super Bowl and let all of it go to waste. But this is without question one of the best, most talented Eagles teams ever assembled, and they have earned this. Not with a win over the Niners, but with 19 games of well-executed, high-level football. Savor this for however long it lasts.

The Bad

• Come on, man. This team cruised to the Super Bowl. I’m supposed to complain? We got Gardner Minshew snaps in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game!

The Ugly

• The only real blemish in this game was the sight of Landon Dickerson grabbing his arm, and walking to the sideline without moving his right arm much. He didn’t have the body language of a guy dealing with a serious injury, but no guarantees until he gets looked at. Hope for the best.

• Boy, the 49ers sure took a lot of stupid penalties in this game. And on top of that, showed a ton of loser energy in the second half. Cheap shots galore between halftime and the final whistle. Enjoy the flight back home.

• The Eagles vs. Andy Reid in the Super Bowl would be unbelievable theater. Need it like I need oxygen.

• K’Von Wallace is going to be lucky if he avoids a suspension after throwing a punch in the final few minutes of this game.


Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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WATCH: Jalen Hurts leads the Eagles fight song in NFC title celebration

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The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl and Jalen Hurts is sending the team off in the most Philly way imaginable: Leading the Eagles fight song. 

Here’s Hurts grabbing the mic during the trophy presentation after the 31-7 win over the 49ers:

Sunday at the Linc wasn’t Hurts’ most impressive performance – 15-for-25 for 121 yards passing, and 39 rushing yards with a rushing touchdown – but it was more than enough to put a San Francisco team in meltdown mode away for good, especially after a third-quarter scoring drive that chewed up nearly eight minutes of clock and put the Eagles up 28-7. The Niners just had nothing left after that. 

“I’m not going to make this about me,” Hurts said on stage during the celebration. “This is a special city. They deserve everything that’s going on. We’ve got one more, we’ve got one more.”

But the city definitely appreciates him. “M-V-P!” chants flowed through the crowd in the celebration:

All while the party poured into the streets for the team’s second Super Bowl appearance in five years:



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Philly celebrates in the streets after the Eagles win the NFC Championship

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The Eagles won the NFC Championship and are off to the Super Bowl.

So, naturally, the celebration poured into the streets of Philadelphia as fans from all over celebrated the big 31-7 win over San Francisco

Party on, Philly. This doesn’t happen often. 

Here’s a quick look into the celebration:

By the way, Philly remains undefeated against the greased light poles:

Night’s still young, but the lead standout maybe spotted by our own Kyle Neubeck?

Just have fun and stay safe out there though: 

And for everyone looking to get home later:

Giants fans in shambles:

Some parting words from a former Phillies GM who had himself a time today:

Do it all again in two weeks?


MORE: Jalen Hurts leads the Eagles fight song in NFC title celebration


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Proposed law inspired by Damar Hamlin would require defibrillators at all Pa. school sports events

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Pennsylvania Sen. Marty Flynn is planning to introduce a bill named after Damar Hamlin that would require automated external defibrillators at all school sporting events in the state. The proposal comes just weeks after the 24-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills suffered cardiac arrest on the field during a Jan. 2 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is making strides in recovery after having his heartbeat restored on the field.

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Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-49ers NFC Championship Game

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Grease the poles, the Philadelphia Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl after beating the San Francisco 49ers in an uncompetitive NFC Championship Game, 31-7. As always, win, lose, or tie, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The ‘What a Catch, Maybe’ Award 🤷‍♂️: DeVonta Smith

On their first drive of the game, the Eagles drove down to the Niners’ 35 yard line, where they faced a 4th and 3. Nick Sirianni opted to go for it instead of trying a long field goal. 

Jalen Hurts’ initial read(s) weren’t there, so he bought time by rolling left, and threw something of a semi-desperation pass down the field to Smith, who made what looked like an incredible one-handed catch.

Slow motion replays showed that it was questionable whether Smith’s catch was aided by the ground. Catch or no catch, Smith displayed his insane body control on the play, as he has done all season. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t challenge, and the Eagles scored two plays later. 

It was essentially a seven-point catch. 

Hanging onto challenges isn’t as important as it used to be, since clearly wrong calls are fixed on the field without coaches needing to use their challenges. Hindsight is 20-20 and whatnot, but because Smith’s catch was such a game-altering play, Shanahan probably should’ve challenged it. He didn’t, and the Eagles were off and rolling.

2) The ‘Game Wrecker’ Award 🔨: Haason Reddick

Shanahan’s next big mistake was having anything in the game plan that required a tight end to block Haason Reddick. Here’s how that worked out on their first drive:

That was not only a sack-fumble, but it also knocked Brock Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. On the Niners’ second drive, Shanahan didn’t learn his lesson, as he once again tried to block Reddick with a receiver (No. 15, Jauan Jennings), and George Kittle. But Reddick got off the snap so quickly that neither player slowed him down at all, and Reddick crushed Purdy’s replacement, Josh Johnson.

Reddick basically wrecked the 49ers’ first two drives of the game, as well as their starting quarterback.

3) The ‘Big Balls Nick’ Award 🏈🏈: Nick Sirianni

After the Eagles and 49ers traded a few possessions that didn’t result in any points, the Niners tied it up with a 23-yard TD run by Christian McCaffrey.

On the ensuing possession, the Eagles faced a 4th and 1 from their own 34-yard yard line. It would have been very easy for Sirianni to punt it back to the Niners, especially with Johnson at quarterback, but he made a pretty big roll of the dice and called a QB sneak, which the Eagles converted. You can take any analytics information that tells you that going for it in that situation is the right thing to do, but it also takes some serious stones to actually do it.

The Eagles would finish that drive with a touchdown. It was a demoralizing, run-heavy, 14-play drive that ate up almost seven minutes and left the Niners only 1:36 in the half to try to score on their ensuing possession.

4) The ‘Butterfingers’ Award 🧈: Josh Johnson

On that ensuing possession, Johnson simply dropped a snap, and the ball was recovered by… guess who.

Boston Scott would then cruise in for a 21-7 lead.

Seven free points.

5) The ‘Complete Dominance’ Award 💪: The Eagles’ defensive line

It wasn’t just Reddick who wrecked this game. Eagles defensive linemen were crushing the Niners’ offensive linemen in their individual matchups, and it felt like Purdy and Johnson were being hit on every pass play. 

On the Niners’ first drive of the second half, Ndamukong Suh hit Johnson, whose head bounced off of the turf. He would be evaluated for a head injury and his day was over. Because San Francisco didn’t have a third quarterback active for this game, Purdy had to come back in, except he couldn’t throw as a result of his elbow injury.

6) The ‘Party Time’ Award 🎈🎉🪩🥳: Eagles fans

Once Johnson was out of the game and it was clear Purdy wasn’t going to do anything more than hand the ball off, the game was basically over. 

If you weren’t an Eagles fan and you were watching at home, it was probably a super boring game to watch. The Eagles ran it a lot because they were trying to drain clock, and the Niners ran it a lot because that’s all they could do.

But at Lincoln Financial Field, with a 21-7 lead, boring was good! The Eagles would eventually add 10 more points to the scoreboard, but they didn’t really need them, and the entire second half felt like a party at the Linc.

7) The ‘Brocky’ Award 🥊: Brock Purdy

A lot of time and effort went into dissecting Purdy’s game in the leadup to this game, and as it turned out, he only attempted four passes. The following Purdy movie poster made the rounds this week:

012923Brocky

In the movie “Brocky,” Brocky gets knocked out in the first round, is replaced by another boxer who also gets knocked out, and then Brocky re-enters the fight but can’t throw any punches.

8) The ‘Rest up’ Award 🛌: Jalen Hurts

Hurts didn’t have a great game. He missed a number of open receivers and he didn’t seem like the elite running quarterback that he was during the first three months of the season, though the Niners’ stout run defense probably also had something to do with that. I think it’s reasonable to assume that Hurts’ shoulder is still affecting him.

The good news is that he’ll now have another two weeks of treatment and rest to try to get it right before the Super Bowl.

9) The ‘Extreme Health’ Award 👨‍⚕️: The Eagles’ starters

All 22 Eagles starters were healthy enough to play in the NFC Championship Game. That’s pretty remarkable injury luck. Landon Dickerson hurt his arm in this game, and the severity of that injury is to be determined.

The good news is that Lane Johnson said after the game that his adductor injury felt better in this game than it did a week ago against the Giants. That is very encouraging for his prospects of being able to play at a high level in the Super Bowl.

10) The Superstar Award 💫: Whoever the Eagles face in the Super Bowl

As of this writing, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals are in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game. Their quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, are pretty good. #Analysis. Some would argue they’re the two best quarterbacks in the NFL. I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re better than Daniel Jones, Brock Purdy, and Josh Johnson.

In case anyone needs a reminder, the Eagles took down the 🐐 in the Super Bowl five years ago.


Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

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The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII

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The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl, which will be played February 12 at 6:30 p.m. EST at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. 

The 1 seed Eagles beat the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round, and then the San Francisco 49ers 31-8 in the NFC Championship Game. They didn’t face much resistance in either game. The Chiefs were the AFC’s 1 seed. They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round 27-20, and the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game.

The obvious storylines in this matchup will be Chiefs head coach Andy Reid facing the Eagles, the team he coached for 14 years, and a couple of future Hall of Famers brothers in Jason Kelce and Travis Kelce playing on opposite teams.

The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts were MVP candidates for the better part of the 2022 season. Mahomes is the favorite to take home those honors. The Chiefs are an extremely playoff-tested team, as they make deep playoff runs every year since Mahomes became the starter:

Year  Chiefs playoff results 
2018   • Won divisional round vs. Colts (31-13)
• Lost AFC Championship Game to Patriots (31-37, OT)
2019  • Won divisional round vs. Texans (51-31)
• Won AFC Championship Game vs. Titans (35-24)
• Won Super Bowl vs. 49ers (31-20) 
2020  • Won divisional round vs. Browns (22-17)
• Won AFC Championship Game vs. Bills (38-24)
• Lost Super Bowl vs. Buccaneers (9-31) 
2021  • Won wildcard round vs. Steelers (42-21)
• Won divisional round vs. Bills (42-36, OT)
• Lost AFC Championship Game vs. Bengals (24-27, OT)
2022  • Won division round vs. Jaguars (27-20)
• Won AFC Championship vs. Bengals (23-20)
• Super Bowl: TBD. 

Some opening lines have the Chiefs favored by one, and some have the Eagles favored by one.


MORE: 10 awards from the NFC Championship Game


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