Eagles beat injury-hit 49ers to reach Super Bowl

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Miles Sanders scores a touchdownMiles Sanders scored two rushing touchdowns for the Philadelphia Eagles
Venue: State Farm Stadium, Glendale Date: Sunday, 12 February Start: 23:30 GMT
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The Philadelphia Eagles denied Brock Purdy a fairytale Super Bowl appearance after beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the Conference Championships.

This season's 'Mr Irrelevant' hoped to become the first rookie quarterback to reach the NFL's title game after winning his first seven NFL starts.

But the Eagles proved too strong after Purdy was injured in the first quarter.

The 49ers also lost their fourth-string quarterback to injury as the top seeds in the NFC Conference eased home.

That means the Eagles will play in the NFL's showcase event for the fourth time and the first time in five years.

Philly beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 to claim their first NFL championship at the end of the 2018 season.

Nick Sirianni's team shared the best record in the NFL's regular season of 14-3, along with the Kansas City Chiefs who host the Cincinnati Bengals later on Sunday to decide who will face the Eagles in Arizona on 12 February.

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Purdy dream becomes a nightmare

Two rushing touchdowns by Miles Sanders helped Philly to a half-time lead of 21-7 before Jalen Hurts scored another, breaking the record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in one season - 15.

While the third-year quarterback has been an MVP contender for most of the season, Purdy broke a host of records as he helped San Francisco finish the season with a 13-4 record.

The 23-year-old was this season's 'Mr Irrelevant', the nickname given to the last man selected in the draft, yet was thrust into the limelight in December after injuries to Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo.

He helped the 49ers extend their winning run to 12 coming into the NFC Championship Game but Philadelphia, arguably the NFL's most consistent team this season, made a statement on the game's opening drive as Miles Sanders punched it in for a six-yard touchdown.

San Francisco's woes then began on their opening possession as Purdy injured his right elbow as he was sacked for a fumble by Haason Reddick, joint-second for sacks this season with 16.

Why NFL's 'Mr Irrelevant' is now anything but

Now led by 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, the 49ers managed to draw level midway through the second quarter after Christian McCaffrey crashed through the Eagles' defence to run it in from 23 yards.

But any hope of San Francisco reaching the Super Bowl despite playing their fourth-choice quarterback was dashed on the next three drives.

Sanders capped a 14-play drive by running in from 13 yards before linebacker Reddick got possession straight back with a fumble recovery.

That gave the Eagles 71 seconds to stretch their lead before the half and Boston Scott made the 49ers pay by getting in from 10 yards.

San Francisco had other injury concerns before Johnson was also forced to the sideline after being injured mid-throw on their first possession of the second half.

Purdy was able to return, with his arm heavily strapped, but was unable to throw properly so the 49ers had to rely on their run game.

And they let frustration show by giving away a host of penalties, allowing Hurts to cap a 91-yard drive at the end of the third quarter before Philly added a field goal.

NFL play-off schedule & BBC coverage

When and where is Super Bowl 57?

This season's Super Bowl takes place in Arizona on Sunday, 12 February (23:30 GMT), with the big game making a swift return to the Phoenix suburb of Glendale as the State Farm Stadium has already hosted NFL's championship game twice - in 2008 and 2015.

Completed in 2006, 'the Big Toaster' was built at a cost of $455m and has a capacity of 73,000, with a retractable roof and a roll-in grass field.

This year's half-time show marks the long-awaited return of Rihanna as the Barbadian singer is set to make her first live performance in more than five years.

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