Philly, Pa. (AP) — Jalen Hurts can lead a singalong, just as he can orchestrate the kind of punishing scoring drives that sent the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
At the conclusion of yet another triumph, Hurts took to the stage on the field — as his Eagles teammates passed the NFC Championship trophy — and clutched a microphone outside Philadelphia’s largest karaoke venue. His The rendition of the team fight song was a bit wrong.
Hurts may not sing as well as he can score, but it was another memorable moment in a Hurts-packed season. And the Eagles don’t think they’re done yet.
“We have new moments,” Hurts said. “New moments and new times.”
Hurts had one of Philadelphia’s four rushing touchdowns and the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl, forced both San Francisco quarterbacks out of the game with injuries and beat the injured 49ers 31-7 in Sunday’s NFC championship game.
The Eagles, who won the Super Bowl five years ago with a different coach and quarterback, will be looking to do it again behind the impressive duo of Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni. Philadelphia plays either the Cincinnati Bengals or former Eagles coach Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.
“We can do it because we did better than anyone else in the NFC this year,” said Sirianni.
Hurts had a modest game by his standards after a season in which he was a finalist for MVP. He was 15 of 25 passing for 121 yards and rushed for 39, improving to 16-1 as a starter this season. The Eagles (16-3) lost two games that he missed with a sprained right shoulder.
Hurts sat alone in his locker, dressed all in purple, puffing on a cigar while the Eagles celebrated around him. He understood that there was still a game to win.
“I never knew how far we would go,” Hurts said, “but I never said I couldn’t.”
Miles Sanders ran for two touchdowns and linebacker Haason Reddick got the hit that forced 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. Reddick was also recovering from a fumble from Purdy’s backup, Josh Johnson, who later suffered a concussion.
That forced Purdy back into the game, but his injury was clearly a factor as the 49ers all but gave up the passing game despite being several points down. Purdy said he couldn’t throw the ball more than 10 yards after injuring his elbow.
San Francisco’s bad luck at quarterback was finally too much to overcome when the 12-game winning streak ended. The Niners (15-5) lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries, and Purdy — the last pick in the April draft — lost for the first time as a starter.
Philadelphia police greased traffic and light poles which again turned out to be a futile attempt to slow down the post-game celebrations. The city now has its beloved Birds in the Super Bowl, just three months after the Philadelphia Phillies reached the World Series.
“When you guys go to our hall (practice facility), in the back there’s always this picture of the 2017 NFC Championship game, and it’s just the electricity of the stadium,” said Sirianni, who was hired two years ago to replace the Super Bowl Eagles winning coach Doug Pederson. “We look forward to getting another picture up there of this special moment we had.”
The game broke up in the final minutes and Philadelphia’s K’Von Wallace and San Francisco’s Trent Williams were kicked out for their role in a brawl. Williams grabbed Wallace from behind and slammed him to the ground.
The moment only seemed to excite the Eagles fans more as they were soon waving their green towels and going wild as confetti fluttered around them.
“We have one game left for the rest of our lives,” Sanders said.
The Eagles broke up the game in the final two minutes of the first half, rising from a crowd that had been calm with nervous energy since a touchdown on the opening drive.
Sanders broke out on a 13-yard run for a 14-7 lead, finishing a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was extended by three 49er penalties.
Johnson went for a shot and fumbled on the next drive, and Reddick — the Carolina free-agent pickup with one of the greatest defensive seasons in franchise history — rebounded on the San Francisco 30. Boston Scott threw 10 yards for a touchdown and 21 -7 lead.
Even though hurts were almost not a factor — he had 97 yards of pass in the first half — the Eagles were firmly in control. His 1-yard rushing touchdown on Philadelphia’s signature rugby-style QB sneak made it 28-7 late in the third quarter.
“We have a chance to go out there and win it all,” Hurts said. “So let’s prepare for that.”
The Eagles thought quickly as they scored on their opening run for the second straight playoff game. DeVonta Smith made a sensational one-handed grab for 29 yards, but replays showed he seemed to lose control of the ball as it hit the ground. Smith showed up and frantically waved the Eagles to the line. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t question the call, and the Eagles folded the next game. Sanders hit a 6-yard run.
“Smart players do smart things,” Sirianni said. “He did a smart thing right there. But I would say he got it.”
The NADIR of the NINERS
Purdy left the game with an elbow injury after being drilled in the arm by Reddick on San Francisco’s first drive. The play was initially ruled as an incomplete pass, but replays confirmed it was a fumble.
“I knew that was a sack fumble because I had my hand on the ball,” Reddick said.
He also got his hand on Purdy’s arm and changed the course of the game. The unlikely rise of 23-year-old Purdy from “Mr. Irrelevant” for the playoff starter ended on a whimper when he failed to become the first rookie QB to lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Unlikely, he was needed again in the third quarter after Johnson, a backup journeyman signed in December, was also injured.
“I hurt for these guys,” Shanahan said. “We felt very comfortable in this game. It was tough circumstances.”
With little hope of getting anything moving behind Johnson, the 49ers turned to Christian McCaffrey, a midseason signing who led the team with 13 TDs in the regular season and playoffs, to get on the board. He broke three tackles on a 23-yard touchdown run that made it 7-7 in the second quarter.
That was the only moment of hope for the Shanahan’s Niners, who had 164 yards of offense and 11 first downs.
“You’re never out of the fight,” McCaffrey said. “We believed in it and it just didn’t pan out in our direction. We were beaten and wish we had another chance with everyone.”
IN THE HOUSE
First Lady Jill Biden, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, actor Bradley Cooper, comedian Kevin Hart, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout and several 76ers including Joel Embiid attended the game.
The Eagles will play the fourth Super Bowl in franchise history on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
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