The Eagles were back at the Linc on Sunday, this time to face the team that many considered to be the best team in the NFC over the back half of the season.
The Eagles did not seemed phased by their opponent, particularly on defense.
Before the half, the Eagles defense had one major issue and that was tackling Christian McCaffrey. That issue lead directly to the San Francisco 49ers scoring their lone points of the first half. Almost as an example of that issue, the Birds missed three tackles on the 23-yard touchdown run that brought the 49ers even with Philly in the second quarter.
Outside of that, the Eagles defensive front was clearly beating the offensive line on almost every play leading to a stifled passing game for the 49ers and the Eagles recovering two fumbles.
Offensively, the Eagles benefitted from a great play by DeVonta Smith, who then rushed his team to the line to avoid replay overturning what could have otherwise been a turnover on downs.
Meanwhile the run game (excluding multiple poor decisions by Hurts to keep) had great success up the middle and all three of the Eagles first-half touchdowns came via the ground game.
Frankly, this game could have been an absolute blowout at the half, but the execution of the Eagles offense really lagged for much of that first half.
The second half became a nightmare scenario for the 49ers as Josh Johnson was slammed by Ndamukong Suh (legally) and wound up concussed. After being forced to leave the game, Brock Purdy came back in and was really no threat at all.
The game was clearly locked up when the 49ers started the fourth quarter down by three scores and only running the ball, resulting in a drive that killed five minutes of clock and ultimately was a turnover on downs. The 49ers gained only 28 yards in those five minutes.
While I’m sure there will be San Francisco fans who argue that the team could have won had their quarterbacks not been hurt, the reality is that the only reason they got hurt was because their offensive line was no match for the defensive front of the Eagles. There were fans out there who tried to argue crazy things like “if you remove the games with the highest sack totals, the Eagles pass rush is only really good instead of great”. It was that attitude that doomed San Francisco to head back to the bay as only Trent Williams could sustain a block for more than a portion of a second and those free rushers wailed the quarterbacks the 49ers put out there numerous times until there was no longer a passer to be tackled.
Overall the Eagles offense set a record with four rushing touchdowns in the game, drives that put up 28 points and killed 18:50 worth of the total time on the clock.
For the second-straight playoff game, the Eagles second team was on the filed in the end as the backups saw some more reps after a dominant win.
Offensive MVPs: Offensive Line
The second-team offensive line didn’t do as well as they did last week, but the Eagles offense really got going and kept the game in check with their run game. It really didn’t matter who was running it because the offensive line dominated once again, despite this being the top run defense in the league this year. The stats were not eye-popping (they only averaged 3.6 yards per carry overall if you exclude the kneel downs to end it), but the Eagles were able to consistently move the chains when they ran behind the blocks that their offensive line (particularly Jason Kelce) provided. Of course, you have to mention a record four touchdowns rushing behind those big guys. Not to mention that Lane Johnson, playing through a painful injury, shut down Nick Bosa all game and left the 49ers with essentially no above average pass rushers available.
Defensive MVP: Haason Reddick
Reddick came up huge in this game. While he wasn’t a major factor in stopping the run once the 49ers became locked into a run-only offense, Reddick forced the fumble and got the sack that knocked Brock Purdy out of the game. He then dominated the right tackle on the bad snap, resulting in his collecting that fumble. Both plays resulted in huge momentum swings that kept the then-struggling offense afloat long enough for them to find their run game.