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Eagles vs. 49ers: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Highlights and lowlights from Philadelphia’s Week 13 loss.

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

This was bound to happen. A football team can only play the way the Eagles have the last month before the roof eventually falls in.

Well, on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against the visiting San Francisco 49ers, it collapsed through the living room and into the basement of a 42-19 49ers’ blowout in a venom-filled game that it carried the underlying tone of a street fight in shoulder pads.

“We didn’t coach good enough, we didn’t play good enough, it’s as simple as that,” Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni said. “You have to give credit to them, too. That’s a really good football team. You don’t come out and play your best game against the guys and the coaches that they have, it’s going to look like that. We have to coach better, we have to play better. We have a lot to clean up.”

They also have something to think about, too: San Francisco has now run over the Dallas Cowboys (42-10) and the Eagles (42-19) by a combined 84-29.

Sitting at 9-3, the Niners are one game behind the NFL-leading Eagles (10-2) and now hold the head-to-head tiebreaker if the teams finish with identical records. The Eagles next visit a rested, motivated Dallas team next Sunday night, and could easily go from the top team in the NFC to looking up at San Francisco because of this loss.

Like the rest of his teammates, Niners’ quarterback Brock Purdy came back to the Linc with a vengeance after getting knocked out of last season’s NFC Championship game. Proving to be more than a system quarterback, Purdy torched the Eagles’ defense for four touchdown passes and 314 yards, completing 19 of 27.

The Niners’ Deebo Samuel came, he talked, he conquered, waving bye to the Linc, after backing up his talk with four receptions for a game-high 116 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 29 yards a catch on short passes that he broke into large gains, some of which were due to the Eagles’ spotty tackling.

Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, was scrambling for his life most of the afternoon. And when he wasn’t running to buy time, there were moments when he sat back and had seemingly minutes to throw the ball. The problem he had was staring at a swarm of defensive backs congesting the secondary and making him hesitant.

He finished completing 26 of 45 for 298 yards with a touchdown, though he was sacked three times for 27 yards. Hurts, who should not have been on the field at the end of the game, looked uncomfortable. He dropped back 48 times, leaving no imagination to the Eagles’ offense (not that it would have mattered by the way the Niners played), while the Eagles’ running backs had 11 rushes for a mere 26 yards.

What was evident is that the Eagles were tired, especially the defense, which over the previous two games were on the field for 175 plays and 72:31 in opponents time of possession—the most of any two-game span in the NFL this season.

For the fifth-straight game, the Eagles trailed at halftime. It’s a trend that finally caught up to them. After winning flawed games by coming behind against Washington (outgained 472-374/down 17-10 at halftime), Dallas (406-292/17-14), Kansas City (336-238/17-7) and Buffalo (505-378/17-7), San Francisco (456-333/14-6 halftime/42-19 loss) may have plowed through a team that is listing.

The Eagles will make the playoffs. The Eagles may win the NFC East. After Sunday, the Eagles may have to take a cross country trip in January for the NFC Championship after this.

By this time next week, the Eagles, Cowboys and Niners could all be 10-3.

There was a mountain of ugly, some bad, and very little good in the Eagles’ 42-19 crippling loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Good

Hurts’ third-quarter “Brotherly shove” TD. It got the Eagles back into the game, and continued to stir the shoving and antagonism going on between the two teams. It also brought the Eagles to within 21-13 after what had been a terrible second quarter with 6:51 left in the third quarter.

Eagles’ security Dom “Big Dom” DiSandro getting 49ers’ linebacker Dre Greenlaw ejected in the third quarter. With 9:19 left in the third, Greenlaw picked up and threw down DeVonta Smith on the Eagles’ sideline. DiSandro had something to say to Greenlaw, and Greenlaw appeared to poke his right hand into DiSandro’s face. The play occurred on a second-and-five at the San Francisco 37. Greenlaw was nailed for an unsportsmanlike penalty and was ejected. So, too, was DiSandro, who had to be escorted back into the Eagles’ locker room. As DiSandro was walking off the field, Eagles’ fans gave him a standing ovation. It played well at Lincoln Financial Field. Maybe not other places. About a minute later, Greenlaw, who was steaming mad, ran off the field. It happened in Philadelphia. It will surely be national sports talk show fodder.

DeVonta Smith’s 21-yard reception on a third-and-19 at the Eagles’ 16 on the Eagles’ fourth drive. It was the one positive of what was turning into a sagging offense with 6:00 left in the first half. It allowed the Eagles to get out from the shadow of their end zone. Smith finished with a game-high nine catches and the Eagles’ lone receiving score.

The Eagles’ first quarter. They took a modest 6-0 lead into the second quarter, though they held San Francisco to a meager six plays, to their 24, and the Niners to minus-6 yards of total offense to 124 for the Eagles. The Niners averaged minus-1 yard of offense per play. It was the first time this season the Niners started a game with consecutive three-and-outs. The Eagles had the ball for 12:57 to the Niners’ slim 2:03. The Eagles had seven first downs and the Niners had zero. The Niners changed that the following three quarters.

Safety Sydney Brown taking down Christian McCaffrey for no gain on the Niners’ first play of their third drive. It was the third time in San Francisco’s first seven plays that went for either no gain or negative yardage.

Linebacker Christian Elliss coming up to pull down Deebo Samuel for a four-yard loss on the Niners’ first play of their second drive at the San Francisco 21.

Edge rusher Haason Reddick crashing in on Purdy on the Niners’ second play of the game for a two-yard sack at the Niners’ 25.

A.J. Brown’s 38-yard reception on a third-and-nine at the Eagles’ 26 on the third play of the game. Right tackle Lane Johnson picked up Nick Bosa and Brown came slanting across the field and Hurts him perfectly in stride. Brown finished with eight receptions for 114 yards.

The Bad

The Eagles’ failure to score a TD on their first drive. That snapped 12-straight Eagles’ Red Zone drives for a touchdown—the longest streak in the NFL. The Red Zone play calling has been dubious this season. The Eagles had to settle for a Jake Elliott 26-yard field. Against a team like San Francisco, the Eagles had to close those drives.

Smith’s third-quarter offensive pass interference call. The Eagles were rolling and the Smith call could have sidetracked that. Smith made up for it the next play with a 15-yard reception.

The Ugly

The Eagles’ coaching staff getting thoroughly outcoached. Niners’ coach Kyle Shanahan tuned up the Eagles’ staff and Sirianni, who openly admitted he was outcoached. After the first quarter, Shanahan saw what he needed to see, then proceeded to rip through the Eagles for six-straight touchdown drives running behind left tackle Trent Williams, exposing the Eagles’ dubious linebackers. Defensively, they threw different looks at Hurts, making him wait in the pocket to unscramble what the Niners were doing. Another major issue: Why was Hurts and other valuable Eagles starters on the field in the waning minutes of a game well over? With 8:44 left to play, Hurts returned after clearing concussion protocol. Why?

The Eagles’ defense. Purdy had a clean pocket most of the afternoon, exposing the rest of the Eagles’ defense. The defense started strong, and ended weak and tired. The Eagles allowed San Francisco to convert eight of 11 third downs, allowed 24 first downs, allowed 465 yards of total—and allowed San Francisco to score on six-straight drives.

Cornerback Darius Slay getting stung on third-and-seven by Brandon Aiyuk at the San Francisco 36 with 5:27 left in the third quarter. Here’s the scenario: The Eagles had just pulled within 21-13. The drama between Big Dom and Greenlaw had everyone in a frothing frenzy. The juices were flowing for an Eagles’ comeback. A stop there and the Eagles may have had a chance. Aiyuk came back on the ball and Slay could not do anything. Slay later swatted at Samuel on his 48-yard TD reception through the middle of the field when he could have tried tackling him instead.

Linebacker Nicholas Morrow literally bouncing off Deebo Samuel on his catch-and-burn 48-yard third-quarter touchdown that gave San Francisco more cushion at 28-13 with 3:54 left in the third quarter. Morrow had Samuel lined up and did not deliver. The Niners’ receiver backed up his smack talk by running right through the Eagles defense for the Niners’ fourth-straight touchdown.

The Eagles’ second quarter. The Eagles went from a dominating first quarter to being dominated in the second quarter. The Eagles controlled time of possession in the first quarter (12:57 to 2:03) and ran off 24 plays to six for San Francisco. In the second, the Niners ran 21 plays to the Eagles’ nine and owned time of possession, holding the ball 11 minutes to just four for the Eagles. More importantly, San Francisco scored twice in the second quarter as the Eagles went from a highly energetic team in the first 15 minutes to a sagging, tired team beaten down by an arduous schedule by the second quarter.

Trailing at halftime for the fifth-straight time. For the fifth-straight game, the Eagles trailed at halftime. The downward trend continues against Washington (down 17-10 at halftime), Dallas (17-14), Kansas City (17-7), Buffalo (17-7) and now San Francisco (14-6).

Edge rusher Josh Sweat’s two offside calls in the first half. The first offsides had serious ramifications. With the Niners driving on their third possession, Sweat was flagged on a third-and-goal at the Eagles’ two, after Purdy failed to hit tight end George Kittle in the end zone. The penalty gave the Niners another shot on third down. This time, and Purdy made them pay, hitting Brandon Aiyuk for a two-yard TD and a 7-6 Niners’ lead. Sweat’s second offsides moved San Francisco from the Eagles’ 24 to the 19 on another Niners’ TD drive and a 14-6 halftime lead.

Hurts taking two major sacks when he had plenty of time. The first sack came from the Niners’ Javin Kinlaw, who had not had a sack since 2020. The 15-yard setback took the Eagles out of a second-and-six at the Niners’ 14. The Eagles were forced into a Jake Elliott 39-yard field goal. The second big sack came on the first play of the Eagles’ fourth drive at the Eagles’ 25. The nine-yard sack by Arik Armstead pushed the Eagles back to their 16.


Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

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