- Jalen Hurts of the Eagles and the 49ers’ Brock Purdy will lead their teams to battle in the NFC Championship.
- The two quarterbacks previously faced off in college in the 2019 season.
- Hurts won their first matchup, but the stakes are way higher for their rematch on Sunday.
This Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship with a spot in Super Bowl LVII on the line.
Both teams are led by young quarterbacks. For Philadelphia, Jalen Hurts is playing in his third season, his second as a full-time starter. Hurts led the Eagles offense to one of its best years in the history of the franchise, and played himself into the MVP debate.
Lining up under center for the 49ers will be rookie Brock Purdy, who just two months ago was best known as “Mr. Irrelevant” as the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Entering the season as San Francisco’s third option, behind both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo, Purdy wasn’t expected to see the field this season, much less lead the 49ers to the NFC title game.
But after Lance went down with an injury in Week 1, and Garoppolo followed him mid-season, Purdy was thrust into the spotlight, handed the reins of one of the best teams in the NFL. So far, Purdy has not flinched, a perfect 8-0 in his games for the 49ers, with the team averaging 32.6 points per game since he’s taken over the starting job.
At the beginning of the year, it would have been tough to predict that Purdy and Hurts would be facing off at this point in the playoffs, but this isn’t the first time that Hurts and Purdy have met on the field.
Back in 2019, when Hurts was at Oklahoma and Purdy at Iowa State, the two went toe-to-toe in a Big 12 battle that went down to the wire, with Hurts’ Sooners ultimately prevailing.
In that initial meeting, Oklahoma was heavy favorites. Hurts connected with future Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb for two touchdowns in the first half to jump out to a 28-7 lead over the Cyclones, but Purdy fought back.
Trailing by 14 points in the final minutes, Purdy led his team on back-to-back touchdown drives to cut the Sooners lead to 42-41 with the extra point pending. On the road against a top team, the Cyclones daringly went for two and the win, but came up just short.
On Friday morning, NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” ran the highlights from the game between two future NFL starters.
—NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 27, 2023
Four years later, it’s tough to tell which quarterback will prevail in the rematch. Oddsmakers have the Eagles as slight favorites at home, but the line has not giving them more than a three-point edge over the underdogs.
Reflecting on the game, neither Hurts nor Purdy believed it would have much impact on their second meeting.
“Obviously two different teams, two different times,” Hurts said Wednesday. “I remember getting out early, had like five touchdowns in the first half, I think it was like 35-14 at halftime or something like that, and then they ended up coming back. … It was a good game. I’m glad we won.”
“Different situation and scenario than what we’re about to go through on Sunday, but it was a fun college game,” Purdy said.
“It was a great experience to go against Jalen and they had a great team, and he was making plays and I feel like we had to do the same to keep up and stay alive in that game as well, but this is a different situation, different scenario going into Sunday.”
The NFC Championship kicks off on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Philadelphia.