Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick, right, causes a fumble by...

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick, right, causes a fumble by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy during the first half of the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Credit: Seth Wenig

PHILADELPHIA — It’s been a wild couple of years for Jalen Hurts.

He first came to widespread attention as the starting quarterback for Alabama and was best known, perhaps, as the guy who was benched at halftime of the national championship game after the 2017 season, a demotion that would have psychologically crippled most athletes. He rebounded from that and transferred to Oklahoma for his final collegiate season.

Then came the NFL Draft and his surprise selection by the Eagles in the second round.

“They probably didn’t even want to draft me here,” he said of coming to a team that already seemed to have a franchise quarterback on its roster and was one year removed from winning a Super Bowl. “It was probably one of those things. But it always handled itself.”

He became a starter last season and showed some improvement in his game, even brought the Eagles to a brief playoff appearance.

This season he grew into something altogether different. He became a Pro Bowler, a star, an MVP finalist.

And now he is a Super Bowl quarterback. The youngest ever, in fact, not yet 25 years of age. Certainly one of the most fascinating.

But Hurts didn’t want to think about narratives or journeys in the aftermath of Sunday’s 31-7 win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles dominated and ended the 49ers’ 12-game winning streak.

In the corner of the partying home locker room, Hurts sat quietly on a stool, no one near him, dressed in a purple suit, puffing on a cigar, enjoying the moment.

“I know I’ve been through a lot personally,” he said later at a formal news conference, “but I want to steer it to the direction of how good this team has been playing together, being together, challenging each other. When we experienced some challenging times, tough times, we always found a way to overcome.

“We have a chance to go out there and win it all,” he added, “so we want to prepare to do that.”

The Eagles will face AFC champion Kansas City in Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

Hurts didn’t have amazing stats in this game. He didn’t need them. But he viscerally willed the Eagles to victory with an intangible aplomb and confidence few players ever achieve in their careers.

“He is a great young leader,” Eagles owner — and soon to be extremely high-paying employer — Jeffrey Lurie said after a win that sent his team to the Super Bowl for the second time in five years but with a different quarterback and different coach.

“When we drafted him, it was the upside we were banking on. It takes a couple years. But someone so dedicated as Jalen and such a great teammate, inevitably he is going to maximize everything he has, and that’s what he’s done.”

It was a game in which the winning team barely needed to pass the ball and the other physically could not. Top-seeded Philadelphia scored four rushing touchdowns (one of them by Hurts) and ran for 148 yards against the top defense in the league. Hurts attempted only 25 passes and completed 15 for 121 yards, throwing on only six second-half plays.

Run, Eagles, Run. All the way to the Super Bowl.

San Francisco rookie quarterback Brock Purdy left the game in the first quarter with an injury to his throwing elbow after his right arm was hit by Haason Reddick (the play initially was ruled an incomplete pass, but it was overturned by replay and called a fumble

). Josh Johnson entered the game to replace Purdy but left early in the third quarter with a concussion, leaving Purdy, who was unable to throw, to finish the contest.

The game was quirky but relatively even for most of the first half, with a one-handed catch that looked to be incomplete but went unchallenged and a punt that may or may not have clipped the cables that control the overhead cameras (the officials said they couldn’t tell). Through it all, the teams were tied at 7 late into the second quarter.

That’s when things began to turn in the Eagles’ favor for good.

Philadelphia drove 75 yards on 14 plays — plus three costly penalties against the 49ers — to go ahead 14-7 with 1:36 left in the half. Miles Sanders, who had scored the opening touchdown for the Eagles, notched this one from 13 yards out. A fourth-and-1 sneak from Hurts at the Eagles’ 34 sparked the drive.

When the 49ers got the ball back, backup quarterback Johnson fumbled a shotgun snap and could not recover it (a teammate unwittingly kicked it away from his efforts to secure it on the ground). Reddick the Menace recovered it at the San Francisco 30 for the Eagles with 1:11 left, and four plays later, Boston Scott ran it in from the 10 for a 21-7 lead.

Any chance the 49ers had for a comeback were thwarted when Johnson left the field with a concussion after he was hit by Ndamukong Suh and the back of his head hit the turf. Purdy came back in at quarterback, but it was clear he could not throw. He attempted only two passes, both short designed checkdowns to Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle.

Nick Sirianni, who, like Hurts, was an unorthodox and questionable selection by the Eagles in replacing a champion at his position, will go to the Super Bowl in only his second season as a head coach. He said reaching that point is something everyone on the team has dreamed about.

“And we get to do it because we did it better than anybody else in the NFC this year,” he said.

Soon after the game ended and the confetti was flying and the trophy had been presented, the Eagles and the world learned that there is one thing their amazing quarterback cannot do well. Hurts, microphone in hand, led the crowd in a rendition of the “Fly, Eagles, Fly” fight song.

It was a decidedly creaky, choppy, off-key performance.

In his short time in Philadelphia, they were about the only notes Hurts hasn’t hit perfectly.

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