NFL

Sirianni and Hurts laud Eagles defense after 'dream' NFC Championship Game win

By Sports Desk January 29, 2023

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni declared his side as boasting "the most physical defense in this league" after manhandling the banged-up San Francisco 49ers in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

The 49ers were held to just one scoring drive in the 31-7 demolition, as starting quarterback Brock Purdy and backup Josh Johnson were both knocked out of the game after absorbing hits from the Eagles' defensive line.

Purdy had his throwing arm hit by edge-rusher Haason Reddick halfway through the first quarter, forcing a fumble and causing an elbow injury that forced the talented rookie to watch from the sidelines.

However, Purdy was then called upon to re-enter the game early in the third period after Johnson was hit by hulking defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and slammed the back of his head against the turf, resulting in a concussion.

Purdy's elbow was clearly restricting his ability to throw the ball, attempting only two passes on the 49ers' final three drives as they trailed by multiple scores.

Overall, the Eagles' defense held the 49ers to 83 passing yards and 81 rushing yards, making a statement against a San Francisco side who boasted what was considered the league's best defense coming into the contest.

During his postgame media appearance, quarterback Jalen Hurts agreed the 49ers had "the best defense in the league" but gave a shout-out to Reddick for his game-wrecking dominance after also collecting two sacks.

"They played a really good game, they have a really good coach," he said. "I've always talked about that, he does a really good job with them, especially the guys up front.

"We ran the ball really well, and I think they didn't give us many opportunities to take shots down the field – we had some one-on-one shots, hit or miss – but we kind of took what they gave us, it ended up being one of those games.

"We put ourselves in this position. There are definitely things out there that we're going to learn from, but this team played a hell of a game today.

"Haason Reddick – he's been a bad dude all year. That's what we need going forward."

He added: "We're going to the Super Bowl. We put a lot of work in to have this opportunity, and to be here, it's a moment we want to enjoy as a team. 

"Reflecting on everything we've been able to overcome to have this opportunity in front of us – we want to take advantage of it.

"The atmosphere tonight was amazing, the fans showed up. The energy, all of it, we need to bring that to [Arizona]."

Speaking during the NFC Championship trophy presentation, Sirianni credited his defense for the one-sided nature of the matchup.

"This defense just keeps coming to work every single day, and killing it," he said. "This is the most physical defense in this league.

"[Defensive coordinator] Jonathan Gannon did a great job, the leaders on our defensive line where it all starts did a great job, our secondary, linebackers – I mean, it was great team defense. 11 as one, and they competed with one heartbeat tonight."

In the immediate aftermath following the final whistle, Sirianni discussed how it is every football player's lifelong dream to play in the Super Bowl.

"Obviously this is something you dream about as a kid," he said. "All these guys on our team have dreamt about this their entire lives, too. 

"So, to be able to do this together with a group of men who love each other, who are connected to each other, who would do anything for each other is pretty sweet. 

"You see this city and the passion they have for this team. We're so appreciative of these fans. Look at this place – there's no place like this in the NFL. 

"It's a hard-working city, a blue-collar city, and we tend to think that's the type of team we have with the guys we have on the O-line, D-line, but it doesn't stop at O-line, D-line. 

"We've got tough guys everywhere, guys who give it up for each other everywhere."

It will be the Eagles' fourth Super Bowl appearance, where they will be seeking their second championship after Nick Foles led the franchise to their first in 2018.

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