Grayson’s Grades: Eagles vs. 49’ers (NFC Championship)
The Philadelphia Eagles are going back to the Super Bowl for the second time in the last five years after hammering the San Francisco 49'ers 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game.
The Eagles defense dominated the Niners forcing several turnovers. Meanwhile the Philadelphia offense did all of its scoring on the ground recording four rushing touchdowns in the victory.
One more win and the Eagles will bring home the Lombardi Trophy for just the second time in franchise history. They have two weeks to prepare for Super Bowl LVII in Arizona.
Another great report card for the Eagles. Here is the NFC Championship Game edition of Grayson's Grades:
Miles Sanders - Sanders did a great job of taking what he could get. The Niners had a pretty good game plan to limit the Eagles rushing the ball. But Sanders kept looking for those holes and wound up scoring two touchdowns. He averaged nearly four yards per carry which is pretty good against a defense of that caliber. Sanders carried the ball 11 times for 42 yards with two touchdowns. He also caught one pass for three yards.
Nick Sirianni - Sirianni had his team focused and ready for this big stage. They came out with energy and fire and took it to the 49'ers on the opening drive. They had to weather some adversity but after San Francisco tied it at seven they picked up the intensity once again and scored 14 big points to end the first half. Now his task will be to have his team ready in two weeks to try and knock off the best from the AFC in Arizona and add his name as the second Head Coach to ever win a Super Bowl title with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Jonathan Gannon - Gannon's defense showed rookie Quarterback Brock Purdy what a legitimate pass rush can do. They got to him early and hit him hard. It was a hit on his arm before he released the ball that led to the first turnover by the Niners. It also knocked Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. He had to return after the Eagles also knocked backup Josh Johnson out of the game due to a concussion. Once that happened this Eagles defense acted like a Boa Constrictor and slowly suffocated the life out of the Niners. The Eagles allowed just seven points. They also forced three turnovers and only gave up 142 total yards.
Haason Reddick - Reddick has had one heck of a season with the Eagles. His postseason has been spectacular and that continued in this game. He was the one who hit Purdy and knocked him out of the game. It was on that play that the Eagles forced their first turnover. He continued to be a beast blowing up frequent plays in the backfield. Reddick finished with three tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.
Ndamukong Suh - Suh is extremely happy that Howie Roseman picked up the phone and called him to join this team. He paid dividends in this one coming up with some big plays. Suh was creating good pressure when he was in there. He also was the one who put the big hit on Josh Johnson that knocked him out of the game with a concussion. Suh tallied two tackles and two quarterback hits.
Javon Hargrave - Hargrave has had a very solid season and been a beast up the middle. He created some solid pressure and was instrumental in stopping the run when the Niners tried to run between the tackles. Hargrave had two tackles, one sack, one tackle for a loss, one pass tipped and one quarterback hit.
Jalen Hurts - Hurts did not have a statistically great game. He made some big throws when needed. However, he did miss some open receivers. AJ Brown had beat his man by a stride or two and Hurts overthrew him. In other words, there were some bigger plays left out there. But a win is a win and he did enough to lead his team to victory and to the Super Bowl. It doesn't show up in the statistics, but Hurts is doing such a good job of changing plays at the line of scrimmage when he sees what the defense is doing. That was a great defense on the other side and he led his team to 31 points against them. That is definitely saying something. Hurts completed 15 of 25 passes for 121 yards. He also carried it 11 times for 39 yards and a touchdown.
AJ Brown - Brown was the benefit of some early targets. It clearly looked like they were trying to get him the ball early and see if he could tack on some quality yards after the catch. As the game unfolded, the passing game was again not needed to do too much. Brown was targeted eight times. He caught four passes for 28 yards.
DeVonta Smith - Smith's greatest contribution was not even a catch. He made what looked to be a miraculous one-handed catch on fourth down to get the Eagles inside the ten yard line. Replays later showed it was not a catch as the ball hit the ground. However, Smith knew it and told his team to quickly run a play. They hustled up to the line of scrimmage and did just that before the 49'ers had the ability to see the replay and toss the challenge flag. Smith caught two passes for 36 yards.
Dallas Goedert - Goedert will typically grind out four to six catches per game. He managed to do that again in this one despite another week where the passing game was not needed due to the score and success of the ground attack. He had to contend a lot with outstanding 49'ers Linebacker Fred Warner. When Warner went out of the game in the first quarter, Goedert took advantage and had a couple of catches. He finished with five receptions for 23 yards.
Offensive Line - The offensive line had its hands full with an outstanding defensive line on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Lane Dickerson and Jordan Mailata did a great job of helping their running backs find enough room for about three yards per carry. They also managed to give Jalen Hurts enough time to try and find receivers. There were occasions that even with that time, he had to leave the pocket because the coverage was good. In my opinion, this offensive line has been the reason for so much of the Eagles offensive success.
Josh Sweat - Sweat was not a huge contributor in the box score, but if you watched the game you saw him creating some havoc in the pocket and hurries by the Quarterbacks. There were a couple of occasions that he did a stunt and as he cleared the middle of the line of scrimmage and went to burst into the backfield, the Quarterback saw it and got rid of the ball. Sweat's burst and motor off the line of scrimmage is a huge asset to this team. Don't underestimate his importance in this victory. Sweat finished with three tackles, one tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit.
CJ Gardner-Johnson - Gardner-Johnson was back at safety and flying around the field. He did make a mistake when trying to tackle Christian McCaffrey on his touchdown run. He failed to wrap him up. Gardner-Johnson laid a good hit on him with his body but did not bother trying to get his arms out to make the play. However, he later saw McCaffrey get out into the open and instead of doing the same thing, he made a great tackle using his arms to tie up McCaffrey's legs and bring him down. CJGJ finished with five tackles in this one.
Marcus Epps - Epps was also involved in missing a tackle on Christian McCaffrey's touchdown run. He had a shot at him around the line of scrimmage and whiffed. He dove right past McCaffrey who made a great move to avoid the hit. Epps did not get quite as much playing time as he had due to the return of Avonte Maddox. Epps was doing a pretty good job in coverage and that whiffed tackle was his only real blemish in my mind. He finished the game with two tackles.