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Eagles vs. 49ers: 16 winners, 6 losers, 1 IDK from the NFC Championship Game

Musings from Philadelphia’s playoff win.

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Eagles are going back to the SUPER BOWL after beating the 49ers! First time since the 2017 season. Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.



This is the best Eagles team ever.

Of course, they need one more win to truly cement that reputation.

But this group is dominating the competition in historical fashion.


There was a decent amount of red in the stands shortly after the stadium gates opened. But then Lincoln Financial Field really filled out with midnight green closer to kickoff.

This was the second NFC Championship Game crowd I’ve witnessed in person. There’s definitely a different level of intensity, as there should be.

You guys brought the juice.

The 49ers dealt with three delay of game penalties and the Eagles fed off your energy.


Sirianni will not be AP NFL Coach of the Year. He didn’t make the cut as one of three finalists. The honor will instead go to Doug Pederson, Brian Daboll, or Kyle Shanahan.

Sirianni’s record against that trio this season? 5-0.

One of the arguments working against Sirianni is that he was given a ton of talent to work with. Indeed, Howie Roseman absolutely loaded the Eagles’ roster with high-quality players.

Even so, the Eagles exceeded expectations this year. They entered the season with an over/under set at 9.5 wins. They won 14 to set a new franchise record. And then won two more in the playoffs to advance to the Super Bowl.

Part of the reason why the Eagles have been so good is because they’re an incredibly well-coached team. How could one argue otherwise?

Sirianni gives his team an edge. That much was on display early in this game when the Eagles decided to go for it on 4th-and-3 from the 49ers’ 35-yard line.

Of course, that call was a bit easier to make since the ball was in no man’s land in terms of being either a long field goal or a short punt.

The ballsier decision was when the Eagles faced 4th-and-1 from their own 34-yard line with the game tied at seven points each. It’s easy to take the Eagles going for it and getting the first down for granted. But one must realize that not just every coach decides to be aggressive there. Most probably punt in that situation.

Two big fourth down decisions by Sirianni ultimately resulted in 14 points as opposed to maybe getting just three.

In case you forgot, the Eagles previously won the Super Bowl with an aggressive head coach. There’s no doubt that the organizational emphasis on analytics helps in this regard. Still, Sirianni ultimately the one making the call and he deserves credit for not being a coward and getting game management wrong.

The same can’t be said for the head coach he was going up against on Sunday. And, yet, that dude might win Coach of the Year over him.


The Eagles’ owner just might know what he’s doing with his football team.

Philadelphia is the fourth NFL team to reach three Super Bowls dating back to 2004, joining the New England Patriots (seven), Pittsburgh Steelers (three), and Seattle Seahawks (three).

The Eagles are also the fourth franchise to appear in multiple Super Bowls since 2017, joining the Kansas City Chiefs (two), Los Angeles Rams (two), and New England Patriots (two) in that span.

Lurie is the fourth individual owner to have three different coaches reach the Super Bowl.

The Gold Standard.


You already know I’m going to have to write an apology letter to Howie after the Eagles win their second Super Bowl under his guidance.

In the meantime, the two-time Executive of the Year will have to live with getting credit in this section.

The Eagles aren’t as dominant as they’ve been without all the talent he’s assembled.

And it’s crazy that they’re on the precipice of winning a title while also owning the No. 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.


The Eagles’All-Pro right tackle has allowed zero sacks and zero QB hits on 57 pass block snaps this postseason, according to Pro Football Focus. And this despite playing through his groin injury.


He’s so good that even a divisional rival feels the need to praise him:

Here’s Lane talking about his situation:

And here is perhaps an encouraging sign ahead of the big game:

By the way, the whiners accusing Johnson of constantly false starting should watch the following clip.


This was hardly Hurts at his sharpest.

He completed just 15 of his 25 attempts (60%) for only 121 yards (4.8 average), zero touchdowns, and a 72.3 passer rating.

Hurts failed to take advantage of the 49ers’ weakness against deep passes. For the second week in a row, he overthrew a deep target to A.J. Brown that could’ve resulted in a touchdown. One could wonder if his shoulder injury is causing him to overcompensate since he usually displays great touch on downfield throws.

Hurts also fell victim to dropping his eyes and looking uncomfortable in the pocket more often than usual.

The Eagles’ quarterback will likely need to be significantly better in the Super Bowl. The margin for error figures to be slimmer going up against Patrick Mahomes.

To beat the 49ers, though, Hurts did enough to help his team win. He countered a free rusher in his face on the Eagles’ first drive by finding a way to get the ball out quick to A.J. Brown, who kept it off the ground with a good catch. Hurts gave DeVonta Smith a chance to make a one-handed catch on the 4th-and-3 by rolling left (not previously a strength of his) and trusting his receiver.

Critically, Hurts did not put the ball in harm’s way. He avoided turning it over against a 49ers defense that led the NFL in generating interceptions. We just saw how Dak Prescott contributed to the Cowboys’ season ending by throwing two picks against this defense. Hurts also did not take a sack for a loss (there was a play where he ran for no gain that was counted as a sack).

Hurts pitched in with his legs when necessary. He converted that crucial 4th-and-1 with a sneak from the Eagles’ own 34-yard line. He later got into the end zone with a sneak. Hurts’ longest run took place on a play where he forced a missed tackle to turn a 2nd-and-8 from just outside the red zone into 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard line after getting hit late out of bounds. All told, he accounted for 26% of the Eagles’ 150 rushing yards (excluding Gardner Minshew kneeldowns).

The Eagles are now up to 16-1 this season when Hurts starts. That’s not just a coincidence. Even if he’s not on his A-game, he still brings value to the table with his composure and leadership.


Was Smith’s 29-yard reception on 4th-and-3 actually a catch?

Canonically, yes!

And that’s all that matters.

It was an incredible one-handed effort to even give the Eagles a chance at getting away with a call that may have been wrong.

DeVonta also deserves credit for 1) instantly recognizing that the 49ers might challenge the ruling, 2) quickly getting the ball to the official, and 3) signaling to the offense to hurry up to get a play off.

Not all players would necessarily be so aware and quick to act in that situation.

Leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, DeVonta specifically drew praise for his football IQ:

His smarts are part of the package that is a very good football player.

Kinda crazy that he only saw two targets after this catch.


As previously noted, Brown got open deep against Chavarius Ward — the 49ers top cornerback — but Hurts overthrew him.

Brown also had that important catch for a first down on the low throw that was caused by immediate pressure on Hurts.

Brown did drop a pass, which was unfortunate.

But the feeling here is he’s going to have a really strong showing in the Super Bowl. He’s due, right? He can’t go 3 for 22 last week and 4 for 28 this week and be held back in the biggest stage this season. He’s too good for that to be the case.


Zero sacks allowed. Zero quarterback hits allowed.

150 rushing yards against a 49ers run defense that was allowing the second-fewest per game at 79.2. Not to mention four rushing touchdowns!


Who reasonably expected Playoff Kenny to be a thing?!

Gainwell is out here looking like a totally different player in the postseason.

For the second week in a row, Gainwell led the Eagles in rushing. His 14 carries went for 48 yards (3.4 average).

Gainwell also pitched in with two catches for 26 yards. He did a nice job of fighting for extra yards.

Gainwell’s four forced missed tackles were more than the rest of his teammates combined! And they occurred within 31 snaps played. In the regular season, Gainwell played 331 snaps ... and was only credited for five forced missed tackles.

Can he continue to be a factor in the Super Bowl and beyond this postseason run?


His two touchdowns were certainly aided by great blocking but, hey, if we’re going to get on Sanders when he doesn’t take what’s available to him, we should acknowledge when he does the right thing. Besides, Sanders led all Eagles ball carriers with a 3.8 yards per rush attempt.


Patrick Mahomes will certainly put Gannon to the test in the Super Bowl.

Hard to argue with the playoff results so far, though.

And it sounds like the Eagles’ defensive coordinator will be back in 2022?


Reddick changed the game by strip-sacking Brock Purdy. He forced a turnover and also eliminated the rookie quarterback as a viable passing threat.

The 49ers aided Reddick by trying to block him with a backup tight end. They also opted to not block him at one point, which was a bad call. He took advantage and now he’s up to 19.5 sacks in 19 games this season.

He’s also up to 12 total pressures on 36 pass rush snaps in the playoffs.

Probably should have gotten more Defensive Player of the Year consideration, huh?


Hargrave tied Reddick for a team-high five pressures. He was PFF’s second-highest graded Eagles defender, only behind Reddick. Hargrave had one sack, one TFL, and one batted pass (that almost could’ve been a pick).


Two QB hits (team-high) on just 10 pass rush snaps. One of his hits knocked Josh Johnson out of the game and forced the 49ers to go back to Purdy, who couldn’t function as a passer.



‘You’re gay and I’m rich!’

Wow, what a really cool guy.


Zero sacks, zero QB hits, and one missed tackle for the dude who’s probably going to win Defensive Player of the Year.


There seems to be A LOT of ‘the Eagles haven’t beaten anybody!’ sentiment out there. I was actually asked some questions along these lines on the Monday edition of The SB Nation NFL Show.

You should check out the whole thing but here are some rebuttals in bullet-point form:

  • The Eagles earned the most favorable path to the Super Bowl by securing the No. 1 seed.
  • The Eagles aren’t just squeaking by their competition. They’re dominating them.
  • The Giants, who might have the Coach of the Year winner, were getting praised for beating the Minnesota Vikings before coming to Philly. The 49ers, who won 12 straight and might have the Coach of the Year winner, actually ranked ahead of the Eagles in a number of statistical metrics. Both teams were getting credit before playing the Eagles but after losing to Philly now it’s that they weren’t impressive. OK.
  • The Eagles did not merely get lucky with Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson getting hurt. They knocked them out of the game (legally, no dirty hits) with a physical and relentless pass rush.


How about picking someone on your own size, Trent?

Last week, you tried to bully the Dallas Cowboys’ kicker.

This week, you dragged the Eagles’ fourth safety to the ground from behind to get ejected.

Can’t get that Washington football franchise loser stink off you, I guess.

Williams is probably going to get fined for doing what he did. He really should be suspended for at least one game at the beginning of next season. K’Von Wallace could’ve gotten hurt there.


Shanahan is a great schemer and everything but he’s just not great when it comes to game management.

I realize he didn’t have a great angle of the DeVonta play but that shouldn’t matter. It was such a high leverage spot! If the replay overturns the catch, the 49ers get the ball instead of the Eagles likely getting at least three points. Is it really more important to save a timeout and a challenge than points?!

Whatever. Not the Eagles’ problem. But Shanny’s shortcomings should make you appreciate Sirianni more.


More like SkyScam?!

Why couldn’t anyone determine if Brett Kern’s punt that only went for 34 yards hit the wire? Hard to believe the Eagles’ coaching staff and players were simply making it up.

Fortunately, the 49ers getting the ball at the 50-yard line when it should’ve instead been a redo didn’t have a big impact in this game. But the process needs to be evaluated here, not just the outcome. What if that play happened towards the end of a game and the Eagles lost on a field goal that was setup by interference? That would be a disgraceful and unnecessary way for a season to end.



PFF actually graded Dickerson as the Eagles’ best offensive player from this game. But the starting left guard left early with an arm injury.

The Eagles are looking relatively healthy ahead of the Super Bowl. But Dickerson’s status will be worth monitoring.

His replacment, Andre Dillard, graded out as PFF’s worst offensive player from the game. In fairness, he only played 13 snaps.

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