It was on Sunday as it has been the entire season: The Eagles' offense started fast and scored a touchdown on its first possession for the 10th time and then played a patient, multidimensional game the rest of the way. The defense played physical, fundamental, and technically sound football, changed the course of the game with its pass rush, and took the ball away.
And as the frenzied, deliriously happy crowd at Lincoln Financial Field stayed on its feet for an entire afternoon and roared its approval as the Eagles dismantled the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 to advance to Super Bowl LVII, its second Super Bowl appearance in six seasons, one word came to mind.
That's what the Eagles have been in a season of 16 wins in 19 games. They've won offensively behind a great offensive line, a quarterback who made the leap to stardom in his third season, a standout room of pass catchers, a take-charge group of running backs, and a coaching staff that, on a weekly basis, found and exploited the weaknesses of opposing defenses.
Philadelphia's defense, bolstered by an infusion of talent acquired even into the middle of this regular season, did on Sunday what it's done since September. A Haason Reddick sack on the sixth San Francisco snap sent 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy to the sidelines with an elbow injury – the Eagles led the NFL in quarterback sacks this year with 70 after registering just 29 in 2021. The Eagles shut down the 49ers running game save for a Christian McCaffrey 23-yard touchdown run. And Jonathan Gannon's group, which led the NFL in takeaways for much of the 2022 season, registered three of them on Sunday, one late in the first half that the offense promptly turned into seven points and a 21-7 advantage.
A team built to win it all is now just one victory away from its second Super Bowl Championship.
The offense got things started on Sunday right from the opening kickoff, as Boston Scott's 29-yard return gave the Eagles a first down at their 34-yard line. Hurts threw on first down to wide receiver A.J. Brown on the right side for 6 yards. Miles Sanders decisively burst through a big hole up the middle for 6 yards and a first down to move the field position to the 42-yard line. A couple of plays later, Hurts – under pressure – threw to Brown in the middle of the field and Brown made a pretty scooping catch for 10 yards and a first down.
And then, on fourth-and-3 from the San Francisco 35-yard line, Hurts connected with wide receiver DeVonta Smith on a throw down the left sideline – a play that highlighted everything that both players are early in their careers. Hurts, throwing the football vertically as the offense clicked in the big-play passing game, threw one to Smith, who leaped high and reached up with his right hand to catch the football and cradle it to his body for a 29-yard gain to the 49ers' 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Sanders ran into the end zone untouched for the first of his two touchdown runs.
San Francisco battled and tied the game on McCaffrey's touchdown run, but Hurts and the offense answered right back with a 14-play, 75-yard drive capped by Sanders' 13-yard scoring run, a drive on which the Eagles converted two third downs and a fourth down.
Reddick recovered a Josh Johnson fumble – he replaced Purdy – on the next possession and Scott scored from 10 yards out and the rout was on – with two quarters still to play.
That's how the season has gone, right? The Eagles have been great from the start of the year and they continued it all the way through the NFC Championship Game. One win remains, two weeks hence.
On Sunday, the party was epic, deserved, and pure joy. And everything the Eagles have done all season – they've been the most physical team, they've been the most talented team, they've been the best-coached team – came true once again and the result was a blowout in the final NFC game of the season. The score in the two NFC playoff wins – 69-14 in victories over the Giants and the 49ers.
Here we go again … one more step remains. The Eagles are in the Super Bowl and they are poised to play as they have all season – dominating in every way.
The Eagles hosted the San Francisco 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field for the NFC Championship and a spot in Super Bowl LVII.