The Philadelphia Eagles are headed to Super Bowl.
That’s right, the Birds (16-3) punched their ticket to Arizona after trouncing the battered San Francisco 49ers 31-7.
The Eagles are headed to the Big Game in Arizona against the Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs, who edged the Cincinnati Bengals on a last-second field goal 23-20.
Super Bowl LVII will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona with kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Many people will look at the 31 points the Eagles scored and talk about the impact of quarterback Jalen Hurts, the offensive line and the 148 rushing yards the Birds posted against the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
If you watched the game, you know it was the Eagles defense led by Sam linebacker Haason Reddick that wrecked the game for the 49ers.
Reddick finished with three tackles (two solo, two sacks, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Reddick influenced every part of the game. His first play on 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was in the first quarter, a strip sack that injured Purdy’s throwing elbow and basically knocked him out of the game.
Reddick’s second sack was also in the first quarter and it was on backup Josh Johnson for a nine-yard loss.
Reddick rocked Johnson on the play and seemed to affect his confidence for the rest of the evening. Johnson fumbled in the second quarter and it was Riddick applying the pressure and also recovered the fumble on the 49ers 30-yard line.
Three plays later, Boston Scott scored on a ten-yard run to give the Birds a 21-7 lead at the half.
The 49ers only score came on a six-play drive in the second quarter that went 46 yards and finished with an exciting 23-yard run by Christian McCaffrey.
The 28-year-old former Temple standout said his playoff success is not a surprise and shouldn’t be to fans and teammates.
“That’s what is expected [of me], Reddick said. “At the end of the day, I’m just glad that I was able to be any type of help, any type of asset to this team. I never really think about…’oh yeah, I’m just going to get this many sacks.’ I just go out there and play hard. When the clock is over, I’ll see what happens after that.”
Reddick was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He decided to leave Arizona and join his college coach Matt Rhule at the Carolina Panthers in 2021. But in the spring of 2022, Reddick signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Eagles and has been worth every penny.
Reddick was asked if he was worried about the problems professional athletes can experience when they play in their home town.
“I think my journey going away from home first, it just prepared me that way,” Reddick said. “And to be able to handle the distractions and all of that stuff coming back home. Not only that, I knew there would be pressure. Being a home town kid, I knew there would be pressure for me to come home and be a great player. I use that pressure to get me over that hump, to continue to push myself and continue to try to be everything I can be for Philly.”
Reddick was asked if it has it hit him yet that he is going to play in the Super Bowl.
“Most definitely,” Reddick said. “That’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about. I’m giving y’all answers and I’m still thinking about the Super Bowl.”
San Francisco edge rusher Nick Bosa had just two total tackles last week during the 49ers win over the Cowboys. Against the Eagles, he was blocked by both Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata and registered four tackles (three solo) and two tackles for loss.
Those numbers will not light up the internet…or win many football games.
Bosa is likely going win NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Was Reddick making a statement that he is this year’s best defensive player?
After all, Reddick is headed to Arizona, Bosa will be watching the Super on television on in the stands.
Reddick believes he is the best.
“I think my play showed it today,” Reddick said in the middle of an upbeat Eagles locker room. “You know what I am saying? But hey, it is what it is. We’re worrying about bigger things. We’re worrying about going to get a ring on our fingers. That’s what I’m talking about.”
Johnson left the game early in the fourth quarter with concussion symptoms. He did not return.
Purdy returned but was only able to hand the ball off and make a few short throws. The game was over in the third quarter. *
Email Al Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org