The Hamilton Spectator
Eagles punch ticket to Super Bowl
The Philadelphia Eagles are headed back to the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco 49ers were in trouble from the start.
An NFC Championship Game that was supposed to test the mettle of 49ers quarterback sensation Brock Purdy instead went off the rails almost immediately when the rookie was sidelined on his opening possession with an injured throwing elbow.
It was only a matter of time before the top-seeded Eagles took control of this contest, which they eventually did on their way to a 31-7 victory at a chilly but not frigid Lincoln Financial Field.
Philadelphia will face the winner of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between Cincinnati and Kansas City, on the National Football League’s biggest stage Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz.
The 49ers were a mess Sunday at the most important position, replacing Purdy with Josh Johnson until that well-travelled journeyman — the team’s fourth QB of the season — left the game for good in the third quarter with a concussion.
With running back Christian McCaffrey the next option at emergency quarterback, Purdy re-entered the game but largely was relegated to handing off.
The Eagles, behind the NFL’s best offensive line, dominated on the ground with four rushing touchdowns.
The showing was deeply disappointing for the 49ers, who were undone not only by the injuries at quarterback but a series of penalties on their increasingly frustrated defence.
There was a near brawl toward the end of the game when both teams were warned to return to their sideline and players from both sides — San Francisco’s Trent Williams and Philadelphia’s K’Von Wallace — were ejected.
The 49ers, who were flagged three times in the divisional round against Dallas, were penalized 11 times against the Eagles. It was far from a flawless game for the officials, who appeared to blow a call on Philadelphia’s opening scoring drive — a long pass to DeVonta Smith — after replays showed the ball hitting the ground.
The Eagles are heading to the Super Bowl for the second time in six seasons, having won their first Lombardi Trophy by beating New England at the end of the 2017 season.
San Francisco, which lost to Kansas City in the 2020 Super Bowl, fell short of the big game for the second consecutive year, having lost in the conference title game to the Los Angeles Rams.
As noted by ESPN Stats & Info, the four QBs used by San Francisco this season ties Chicago, Arizona, Carolina, the New York Jets and Rams for most in the NFL. And that’s not counting the 49ers lining up McCaffrey for a non-wildcat snap late in the game.