We’ll be in Phoenix for Super Bowl LVII after the Eagles and Chiefs won the conference championship game on Sunday. We’ve been highlighting the best performances in the regular season, and now the best performances in the playoffs deserve recognition from our MMQB staff.
Here are the highlights from the championship game:
John Pluym: Haason Reddick, LB, Eagles. After Redick surrendered 11 sacks with the Panthers in 2021, Philadelphia signed Redick to a three-year, $45 million deal. And Redick got 16 sacks in 22 years, and he didn’t live up to the money. But Redick had arguably the best game of his career in the NFC Championship Sunday. He knocked 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy down with an elbow injury in the first quarter, cutting Purdy’s arm to cause a turnover. He then knocked out fourth stringer Josh Johnson, who left the game with a concussion. Redick finished with two sacks and a fumble as he deprived the 49ers of a throwable quarterback.
Mitch Goldich: Home fans. After spending a week discussing the idea of one day (possibly soon) holding a conference championship game at a neutral venue, we watched two football games in two disreputable stadiums, and the fans were very enthusiastic. Both home teams have won in front of the home crowd, one with a big win and the other with close games played down to the final seconds. I hope the league is smart enough to realize how much there is to lose by taking these games out of these environments and chasing some money by hosting them in random cities with no attachment to either team.
Gary Gramling: Skyy Moore, PR, Chiefs. Moore accepted the appointment on behalf of the Chiefs’ special teams. Beset by low punts all season, only to be fortunately removed from return duty, Moore replaced the injured Kadarius Toney and allowed Kansas City to win the game with a 29-yard punt return. Then, after a tumultuous season in which he didn’t appear to be fully healed from an ankle injury until last week, Harrison Butke hit the game-winning goal at the end of a flawless operation – to Tommy Townsend. and flutist tribute to James Winchester. (Plus, the Chiefs’ training staff gets an honorable mention for prepping their quarterback’s ankle.)
Michael Rosenberg: Christian McCaffrey, RB, 49ers. It’s kind of weird to hand the game ball to the team’s eliminated player, but the 49ers’ game against the Eagles is one of the weirdest playoff games ever, so maybe it’s fitting. With Brock Purdy injured, the 49ers were screwed; when their fourth QB of the season, Josh Johnson, was also injured, the game became uncompetitive.but mccaffrey is always Competitive. With no chance for his team to pitch and win games, McCaffrey played hard and with amazing efficiency. He had 106 yards on 19 touches, including his team’s only touchdown on a brilliant run when he simply denied an interception. The rest of the Niners totaled 58 yards.
Claire Kuwana: Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles. As Michael mentioned above, the Eagles’ win at Lincoln Financial was such an odd game that it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Philly did so well to earn a Super Bowl berth. That’s not to discredit what the Eagles accomplished Sunday, but with the Purdy and Johnson injury saga, much of the game revolved around the 49ers’ doom. But one of the Eagles’ standout players was Sanders — who had 11 assists and half of the Eagles’ touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game after scoring 11 touchdowns all regular season. Two of his scores also came in clutch moments for the Hawks, and are the main reason he got the game ball this week: The first was on the team’s opening drive, and the second put them on McCarver. Retake the lead after scoring a touchdown (of which they never gave up).
Greg Bishop: Jalen Hurts, quarterback, Eagles. It wasn’t his statistically best game: 15 completions, 121 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown. But Hertz only cared about one thing: winning. That’s what he’s done his entire career, whether it’s in Alabama, Oklahoma or in the NFL in Philadelphia. He didn’t make any serious mistakes. He helped the Eagles take the lead. He’s heading to the Super Bowl. If he’s injured for longer, if he doesn’t play on Sunday, it can’t be said.