SAN FRANCISCO -- Hurt by interceptions late in the season, quarterback Ty Detmer threw two more yesterday and the Philadelphia Eagles paid the ultimate price.
Their 14-0 wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers was a study in offensive futility.
Although the Eagles out-gained the 49ers by nearly double in the first half (181 yards to 92), they were thwarted three times inside the 49ers' 20-yard line -- twice inside the 10 on interceptions.
The first was a pass Detmer tried to throw away from the 7, but 49ers cornerback Marquez Pope picked off the lob throw in the end zone. The second interception came when Detmer's intended receiver, Chris T. Jones, got bumped off his route by an official and defensive end Roy Barker gathered in the pass at the goal line on a zone blitz.
"We were able to move the ball, but being unable to score touchdowns in the red zone hurt us badly," Detmer said. "If you had told me beforehand that we were going to be shut out, I would have been shocked."
Detmer, who threw six interceptions in the final three games of the regular season, hit 14 of 21 passes for 148 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Mark Rypien, former MVP of the Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins, who was 5-for-12, but ended the game with an interception at the 49ers' goal line.
Playing the nickel
The Eagles' defensive strategy, meanwhile, called for a significant change in procedure. They dumped their four-man front for a three-man front and nickel package that inserted former Raven Don Griffin in the secondary and moved safety Michael Zordich to a fourth linebacker spot.
"The teams that have had the most success against [the 49ers], they've played them that way," said Eagles coach Ray Rhodes.
The Eagles also gave All-Pro receiver Jerry Rice as much attention as possible.
"Philadelphia was determined to take Jerry away," 49ers quarterback Steve Young said. "They had seven guys in a zone behind [cornerback] Bobby Taylor. It was like a big box-and-one on Jerry most of the game. And still we got him open for a couple of plays."
Rice had four catches for 50 yards and one touchdown, but his most memorable play was a marvelous, one-handed stab of pass that he turned into a 36-yard gain. He scored on the next play, a 3-yard toss from Young.
No revenge for Watters
Eagles running back Ricky Watters returned to 3Com Park for the first time since he left the 49ers as a free agent after their 1994 Super Bowl victory. His numbers were less than superlative: 20 carries, 57 yards.
"There was supposed to be a lot of trash-talking out there today, but there was none of that," Watters said. "They played with pride and dignity. I have nothing bad to say about [the 49ers]."
Said 49ers defensive tackle Bryant Young, who was a teammate of Watters' at Notre Dame: "He wasn't getting into verbal confrontations. He was just out there. And he was still effective."
Next stop, Phoenix
The 49ers will prepare for the frosty climate of Green Bay by practicing this week in sunny Phoenix.
After the victory, San Francisco coach George Seifert said the team would leave for Arizona today to begin preparations.
"It will give us a chance to get some good work in," Barker said in supporting Seifert's decision. "We don't have an inside facility. Since we have such a big game riding on it, we have to practice."
Northern California was greeted yesterday by a tropical storm that featured gusting winds of up to 62 mph and monsoon conditions, forcing the move.
Pub Date: 12/30/96