NFL

Eagles ease through to Super Bowl LVII after luckless 49ers lose two more QBs

By Sports Desk January 29, 2023

The Philadelphia Eagles advanced to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history after a dominant NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers, who were hampered by injuries to Brock Purdy and backup Josh Johnson.

A big 31-7 victory was never really in doubt as the luckless 49ers dealt with yet more injury misfortune in the biggest game of their season.

Already without quarterbacks Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, surprise rookie star Purdy – the final pick in the 2022 draft – left the game at the end of the team's opening drive after a Haason Reddick strip sack saw his right elbow injured.

Johnson unconvincingly came in for Purdy, only to be ruled out after his head hit the ground and he was checked for a concussion. Purdy returned but was clearly limited, seemingly unable to throw the ball as the 49ers' season ended in frustrating fashion.

Miles Sanders had wandered straight up the middle for the opening touchdown, but the 49ers then kept the Eagles in check following Purdy's injury and levelled the game via a remarkable 23-yard Christian McCaffrey TD as he ran through a series of tackles.

The contrast of those two scores epitomised the game for these two teams, however, and Sanders again found a gap to restore the Eagles' lead.

Boston Scott ran in another and, with Purdy repeatedly handing the ball off to a stifled 49er rushing offense, Jalen Hurts also forced his way into the endzone to build an unassailable lead.

Early chaos benefits Eagles

No team scored more points on their opening offensive possessions in the regular season than the Eagles, but the drive that led to Sanders' early TD set in motion a manic first quarter. It included a 29-yard pass for a fourth down conversion that replays showed Devonta Smith appeared to drop. That was not spotted until after play resumed.

The 49ers had already seen Fred Warner take a trip to the blue tent, and Purdy's injury was not their last of the quarter as Nick Bosa was wiped out on the sideline. Meanwhile, Johnson came in for Purdy and was likewise promptly run over by the relentless Reddick.

An unforgettable quarter ended with the Eagles claiming – unsuccessfully – a punt had hit an overhead wire. The 49ers started the second quarter with the ball, their fourth-string QB and a 7-0 deficit.

Running to the Super Bowl

The 49ers paid the price both for their injuries and a sequence of understandably frustrated penalties, but there was also a complete mismatch in the run game.

While this should have been a close call between the Eagles' most successful run offense and the 49ers' second-most successful run defense, four TDs on the ground saw Philly set a single-season record across the regular season and postseason, improving to 39 rushing scores for the year.

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