NFC Championship: Eagles beat 49ers, 31-7, to clinch spot in Super Bowl

PHILADELPHIA — Fireworks went off at Lincoln Financial Field, and Eagles players and coaches reveled in ecstatic celebration toward the end zone, Boston’s Scott running back.

There were still 30 minutes to play Sunday, but with a two-possession lead and the NFL’s best pass rush facing a fourth-string quarterback, the touchdown seemed like an exclamation point. The Eagles beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 to win the NFC Championship and earn a trip to Glendale, Ariz., for the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles have been one of the most complete teams in the league this season, and they showed it again on Sunday. With the win, they will face either Kansas City or Cincinnati in their first Super Bowl since they won it all in the 2017 season.

The Eagles defense, which accumulated the most sacks (70) in the regular season and allowed the fewest passing yards per game (179.8) in the league, ended a Cinderella-like run for 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. After the Eagles scored on their opening possession, linebacker Hassan Reddick sacked Birdie with seven minutes left in the first quarter. Purdy injured his right, throwing elbow on the play and sat out the rest of the first half.

Brock Birdie injured his throwing arm on the 49ers’ first drive of the game Sunday.debt…Mark Magella for The New York Times

The 49ers managed a scoring drive in the second quarter that ended with a 23-yard rushing touchdown by running back Christian McCaffrey, but their offense sputtered behind Purdy’s backup, Josh Johnson. Johnson left the game in the second half with a concussion, and Purdy returned, but he was clearly compromised. Purdy finished the game with four pass attempts. He finished all for 23 yards.

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It was a jarring end to a successful run that Purdy had since December, when he was inserted into the lineup after injuries to the top two quarterbacks on the 49ers’ depth chart, Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Purdy, the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, won seven games as a starter while throwing for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns and just four interceptions during the regular season.

He became just the fifth freshman quarterback to start in a conference championship game, helped by a stout coaching staff and a great roster. He excelled in part because of the weapons around him — receivers Debo Samuel and Brandon Iuk; tight end George Kittle; And general manager John Lynch traded for McCaffrey in October, a versatile running back — and coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme that allowed effective running and passing targets to gain yards after the catch.

But without Purdy, the 49ers’ offense struggled to find a rhythm behind Johnson, an eighth-season pro who played for seven teams. Johnson, before his exit, completed just 7 of 13 passes for 74 yards and fumbled on a mishandled snap, which the Eagles recovered. Shanahan’s luck in seamlessly transitioning through quarterbacks has finally run out.

Josh Johnson, the 49ers’ backup quarterback, left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.debt…Mark Magella for The New York Times

Redick terrorized both San Francisco quarterbacks — he finished with three tackles and two sacks — and served as a model for major free-agency signings and trades. Organized by general manager Howie Rossman To bring the Eagles back to fitness.

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Redick signed with the Eagles before the season, joining cornerback James Bradberry, who was released by the Giants last May, and safety CJ Gardner-Johnson, whom Roseman traded in August. That trio led a defense that harassed the 49ers and limited them to just 164 total yards of offense. That put insurmountable pressure on the 49ers’ defense, which finished the regular season as the league’s top-ranked unit.

The Eagles’ offense seemed in sync, and it took advantage of the 49ers’ inconsequential penalties and a balanced approach as it has done all year. Jalen Hurts, a blossoming third-year quarterback in his second full season as a starter, finished with just 121 passing yards, but he extended plays with his legs, rushing for 39 yards and a touchdown. He threads the ball into tight windows, just like receiver Devonta Smith did on a pass he caught with one hand in the fourth quarter.

The stable of Eagles running backs — Miles Sanders, Kenneth Cainwell and Scott — combined for 111 rushing yards and three touchdowns against a 49ers defense that allowed just 77.7 rushing yards per game in the regular season, second fewest in the league.

The unraveling for the 49ers showed in the actions of their players and on the stat sheet: linebacker Trey Greenlaw was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for punching the ball in the hands of a running back after a play in the fourth quarter, and safety Talanoa Hufanga was flagged for a late hit out of bounds. San Francisco offensive lineman Trent Williams and Philadelphia safety Ke’Von Wallace were ejected after inciting a fourth-quarter brawl in which both benches were cleared.

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The Eagles ran back Boston Scott for a touchdown late in the second quarter.debt…Mark Magella for The New York Times

The Eagles were modest after their Super Bowl win, exiting early in the playoffs in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 seasons; In 2020, they won only four games. After that 2020 season they fired their coach, Doug Pederson, and traded away former first-round pick quarterback Carson Wentz in an apparent rebuilding move.

Coach Nick Sirianni and the Hurts made the playoffs in 2021 in their first year. Despite missing two games with a shoulder injury, he threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns during the regular season while rushing for 760 yards and 13 scores. Catching 11 touchdown passes and posting 1,496 receiving yards, receiver A.J. He benefited from the April trade of Roseman to the Browns. The Eagles exploded to an 8-0 start and finished 14-3, tied for the best record in the league with Kansas City.

Roseman’s roster construction, along with Hurts’ development, propelled the Eagles to the Super Bowl after a quick rebuild. After the two-minute warning, the players began dancing, and the celebration became official when the crowd sang Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” in unison. Green confetti fell, followed by the rendition of rapper Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” which has become the anthem of the city of Philadelphia.

Eagles fans were waiting for the victory their team delivered on Sunday.debt…Mark Magella for The New York Times

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