The Philadelphia Eagles’ magical run continues after a 31-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football Conference, NFC, Championship Game, landing them in Super Bowl LVII.
This will be the team’s fourth Super Bowl appearance, and the second in six seasons. The Eagles, who triumphed in 2018’s Super Bowl LII with a different quarterback and coach, will make another attempt to win the big game with breakout quarterback Jalen Hurts and second-year head coach Nick Sirianni at the helm.
This season, the Eagles dominated and were the top NFL team, with an impressive 14-3 record. They entered the playoffs with the league’s top-ranked offense and second-ranked defense.
The Eagles started off the season strong, with a first-time-ever 8-0 record. Their hopes for an undefeated season ended in Week 10, when they were upset by the Washington Commanders 32-21.
Under Hurts’ formidable leadership, their dominance continued until the team’s Week 15 win over the Chicago Bears. Hurts suffered a severe shoulder sprain, sidelining him for the next two weeks. With the division under control, the Eagles lost their next two games with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. Hurts returned for the final game of the season against their division rival, the New York Giants.
Hurts was rusty in his return, but the Eagles still managed to secure a 22-16 victory over New York, clinching the NFC East for the first time since 2019 and securing the NFC’s top seed and first round bye for the first time since 2017. The Eagles also achieved a franchise record 14 wins during the regular season.
Division playoffs: New York Giants
One throw was all it took.
On the second play of the game, Hurts launched his first pass attempt, a 40-yard completion to wide receiver DeVonta Smith down the left sideline, instantly eradicating any Eagles fans’ uncertainty.
Hurts was back, and as good as before.
In an effort to protect their Pro Bowl quarterback, the Eagles did not allow Hurts to run the ball. In the first series, Hurts threw the ball effectively and ran the ball on two occasions, popping right back up both times. Hurts proved to everyone he was in good health and the Eagles were back to being the complete team that dominated the league during their NFL-best 13-1 start.
In the first half, the Eagles flat-out pummeled the Giants. Hurts impressed early on with his arm, as the Eagles jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead. The Eagles’ swarming defense, led by linebacker Haason Reddick, contained quarterback Daniel Jones, and limited the Giants to just 68 yards of total offense in the first two quarters.
In the second half, Sirianni turned it over to the rushing attack. Philadelphia’s offensive line created huge openings for running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell, as the Eagles finished with 268 yards rushing.
If there were any questions about the Eagles coming into this game, they proved their doubters wrong. The Eagles routed the Giants 38-7 and clinched another trip to the NFC Championship.
NFC Championship: San Francisco 49ers
Emily Wainwright, senior criminal justice major at Cabrini, attended the NFC Championship game.
“The stadium was just a sea of green!” Wainwright said. “The fans were all pumped and it truly felt like the city of brotherly love. Everyone was having fun and being kind to fellow Eagles fans. It felt good to feel the city united over a common goal.”
The Eagles boasted the number-one offense and the best record in the league. The 49ers boasted the number one defense in the league and were the league’s hottest team, winning 12 straight games.
As expected, the Eagles came out throwing the ball. During the opening drive, a wild one-handed fourth-down circus catch by wide receiver DeVonta Smith set up the Eagles’ first touchdown by running back Miles Sanders.
The 49ers’ opening series ended in disaster when linebacker Haason Reddick strip-sacked 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who was injured during the play. With the turnover and great field position, the Eagles had a chance to blow the game open, but their offense sputtered and they were forced to punt.
Much traveled backup, Josh Johnson relieved the injured Purdy, leading the 49ers to a second-quarter touchdown by star running back Christian McCaffrey, knotting the score at 7-7.
The next Eagles drive was the game changer. After three consecutive drives ending with Eagle punts, Hurts orchestrated one of their most impressive drives of the season: 14 plays, 75 yards, taking up almost seven minutes, and culminating with a second Sanders rushing touchdown.
Before the end of the half, Boston Scott joined the party, scoring another Eagles rushing touchdown, giving the team a commanding 21-7 lead at half time.
Paul Markle, a longtime Eagles season ticket holder from Chalfont, Pennsylvania, said, “Scott’s touchdown before the end of the half was a big play. That gave us a 14-point lead and put the pressure squarely on the 49ers’ shoulders. When the Eagles took the field in the second half, you could feel the momentum, the energy, the excitement. I knew we weren’t going to lose.”
Detractors claim the Eagles would not have beaten the 49ers had Purdy not been injured. The numbers say otherwise. The number one defense in the league limited opponents to only 78 yards per game rushing and gave up only three total rushing touchdowns since Week 8. In one afternoon, the Eagles piled up 152 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. This game was not won or lost by quarterback play, but by the Eagles’ offensive line domination.
Wainwright summed it up best: “It’s electric right now being a college student and a sports fan in Philadelphia. This city’s fans are wild! First the World Series in October and now the Super Bowl! The atmosphere is beyond anything I could have imagined.”