Super Bowl 2023: Eagles defense knocks out both 49ers QBs, leads way to NFC title in 31-7 rout
The San Francisco 49ers' defense got all of the attention and accolades before the NFC championship game. Then the game kicked off and the overlooked Philadelphia Eagles defense was the one terrorizing quarterbacks.
The Eagles knocked out the 49ers' two quarterbacks Sunday. Niners rookie Brock Purdy injured his right elbow on a hit from Haason Reddick that resulted in a fumble, and Purdy couldn't continue. Josh Johnson replaced him, until he was hit on a pass attempt and suffered a concussion when the back of his head hit the turf. Purdy had to come back in the game, despite an injured throwing elbow. The 49ers couldn't move the ball and the quarterback situation was the biggest part of that, but give the Eagles' defense credit for their dominating 31-7 win Sunday in Philadelphia.
After the game, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Purdy suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, which is located on the inside of the elbow, and he'll undergo an MRI on Monday.
The Eagles' offense gets a lot of headlines. Philly's defense, which led the NFL in sacks, has been underrated most of the season. That will change in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.
The Eagles are moving on to their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history after the win over the 49ers. The Eagles previously appeared in Super Bowls XV, XXXIX and LII. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl championship in their third appearance, with head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles. When the Eagles knocked off the New England Patriots for that championship, Nick Sirianni had just taken a job as the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator and Jalen Hurts was coming off his sophomore season at Alabama.
Sirianni and Hurts will lead Philadelphia to Super Bowl LVII, a testament to how well general manager Howie Roseman restocked the Eagles on the fly. Some of his best work was putting together the defense that was key to Sunday's win.
Eagles get big break before halftime
The first quarter was bizarre. The Eagles scored a touchdown on a 6-yard Miles Sanders run after officials didn't notice DeVonta Smith actually dropped what looked like a great one-handed catch on fourth down, and the 49ers didn't challenge it. The 49ers lost Purdy to an elbow injury on a play in which his arm was hit and he fumbled, though it was initially called an incomplete pass. The hit came from Reddick, the Eagles' key free-agent addition of the offseason who had a great NFC championship game. The Eagles had a punt that looked like it hit the Skycam but officials didn't see it and had no video evidence of it.
It was one of the most eventful first quarters you'll see, and the Eagles led 7-0 at the end of it.
The 49ers tied it up on a great run by Christian McCaffrey, who was seemingly stopped three times, but he broke tackles and avoided others and ran 23 yards for the score and a tie game.
The Eagles were on the ropes a bit. They hadn't moved the ball since their first drive. The 49ers had tied it and seemed to be settling in with Johnson at quarterback. Then came a huge drive.
The Eagles drove 75 yards on 14 plays. It was kept alive on a questionable pass interference call and capped with Sanders' second touchdown, this one a 13-yard run. The Eagles' line finally started opening up holes and Philly hit a few key runs. It took 6:53 off the clock.
Then the Eagles got a huge gift before halftime. A shotgun snap hit Johnson in the hands but he dropped it. Johnson couldn't grab it right away and Reddick recovered at the 49ers' 30-yard line. Boston Scott scored a 10-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left before halftime and the Eagles had a 21-7 lead.
The 49ers were in a lot of trouble. It got worse.
49ers take on another QB Injury
The 49ers were already in danger of being blown out when the second half started. They were trailing by 14 points with their fourth quarterback of the season in the game. Then the game really became a mess for San Francisco.
On the first series of the second half, Johnson took a hit from Ndamukong Suh and his head hit the turf. Johnson was removed from the game and shortly after he went back to the locker room. He was ruled out with a concussion. McCaffrey was the emergency quarterback and was looking at an offensive play sheet on the sideline, but Purdy came back in. Purdy was limited and mostly just handed off.
The Eagles put the game away shortly afterward. They went on another drive, aided by more 49ers penalties, and Jalen Hurts scored on a quarterback sneak. Even though it was late in the third quarter, the 49ers weren't coming back with a quarterback who had an elbow injury and couldn't throw downfield. The 49ers went for it on fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter and handed to Deebo Samuel, who was stopped cold. The Eagles knew what was coming, but it's not like the 49ers could pass it.
The Eagles were the NFL's best team from Week 1 through the NFC playoffs. They are 16-1 when Hurts starts at quarterback. The offense can run it effectively or hit big plays in the passing game. The defense showed on Sunday that it's a championship-quality unit too.
Philadelphia is heading back to another Super Bowl. The Eagles have all the ingredients to get their second Lombardi Trophy, too.