The NFC Championship Game was more anticlimactic than anybody could have imagined. The game was ugly from start to finish.
The game was just another easy week for the Philadelphia Eagles, who played one of the league’s easiest regular season schedules. Their 38-7 win against the New York Giants in the Divisional Round was more of the same. They head into the biggest game of the season having had the easiest path to a Super Bowl in recent history.
The Philadelphia Eagles Easy Run… and Why it Doesn’t Matter
Against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, the officiating crew botched a catch and then decided to call an incredibly one-sided game overall. Haason Reddick blasted off the edge, injuring Brock Purdy’s elbow. Then Ndamukong Suh de-cleated the 49ers’ fourth QB, Josh Johnson, which resulted in concussion protocol.
Purdy couldn’t throw the football, so the 49ers were down multiple scores, and all they could do was run the football. Philadelphia proved exactly why getting the top seed was crucial to their playoff success. But Philadelphia didn’t choose the path they walked. And their trip to Glendale for the Super Bowl should not come with an asterisk.
The Eagles’ regular season slate was a snoozer. Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence, Aaron Rodgers, and Dak Prescott highlighted the quarterbacks they faced in 2022. Because Prescott broke his thumb in Week 1, the Eagles were only forced to face him once in 2022, a game they lost without Jalen Hurts.
They finished 14-1 in the regular season with Hurts under center, and the team rarely had to sweat much throughout the year, facing what Pro Football Reference calculated as the fifth-easiest schedule.
Winning the NFC’s top seed was imperative. It gave Hurts an extra week to rest his ailing shoulder. Then, they got a gift in the form of facing a divisional opponent they’d dominated in December and beaten again in Week 18.
It is unfair, however, to discount Philadelphia’s achievements, even if their path wasn’t filled with potholes and roadwork. It’s incredibly difficult to win football games in the NFL. We see good teams lose to bad teams all the time. The Eagles’ weekly dominance is impressive, even if they ain’t played nobody, Paul!
Even if Purdy had remained healthy for the entire game, it’s tough to imagine him having much success throughout, given the officiating crew’s one-sided nature and the Eagles’ dominance in the trenches. They were the more complete team.
Eagles OL and DL Are the Key to a Second Super Bowl This Decade
The Eagles have had the best offensive line in the NFL all season. They were the top unit in the league heading into the season and never once let anybody even take a step up on their porch.
They dominated an immensely talented 49ers’ front seven for four quarters. Their run game was the difference in the game. Charvarius Ward dominated down the right sideline, making big play after big play against the Eagles’ talented receivers. Hurts only completed 15 of his 25 attempts for 121 yards.
But it was the Eagles’ defensive front that grabbed ahold of this game from the start and effectively ended it in the first quarter.
The Purdy injury ended the game. While the 49ers scored after his injury occurred, that was an anomaly. That was Christian McCaffrey playing at a level that even he may acknowledge isn’t necessarily sustainable for anything more than one drive.
It didn’t matter if it was Reddick and the starters or the Eagles “backups” like Linval Joseph and Suh, who Howie Roseman signed midway through the season as Philadelphia suffered a few injuries on the defensive line.
That is what has gotten them to this point. A talented roster that a mad genius that never stops looking to improve the roster, with a coaching staff with two future head coaches as their coordinators, backed by a city as feral and passionate as any in the league.
Even against the likes of Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow, it’s tough to bet against an Eagles team that has been so carefully crafted, with trenches so fortified they’d survive Christopher Nolan’s recreated Oppenheimer blast.