PHILADELPHIA – It just seemed so cruel. This should be Carson Wentz’s big moment. His first NFL playoff game after missing his last two postseason appearances in Philadelphia, including the Super Bowl championship, due to injuries.
He had spoken earlier in the week about how grateful I am to be healthy and to be in that moment. And how excited he was to be playing the Seahawks in an NFC wildcard playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. "I'm pretty excited about the opportunity," he said.
When Wentz ran out of the tunnel before tossing the coins, he spread his arms like an eagle ready to take flight. But in an instant it was over. Wentz was sent to the locker room to examine a head injury. He was ready for the game.
The Seahawks would celebrate a 17: 9 win and second round game against the Packers in Green Bay. But people in Philadelphia will talk about the hit and no-call that Wentz’s season has ended.
The injury occurred in the first game of the Eagles' second offensive series. Wentz was pressured to try to escape, but was caught by Seahawks security Bradley McDougald. When Wentz fell forward, Seahawk's defensive end Jadeveon Clowney landed on Wentz. There was a helmet-to-helmet contact that drove Wentz's head into the grass. There was no penalty for the game, a no-call that rightly upset the local crowd.
Wentz remained the quarterback for the next five games before the Eagles stumbled. Then he was evaluated on the sidelines before being sent to the dressing room. Josh McCown, the 40-year-old quarterback, first appeared in the playoffs. And while you felt good for McCown, who spent time with the jets and lost Wentz, it was a cruel and common punishment for an Eagles team that was injured all season.
While Wentz failed, the Eagles played without their starting quarterback, their top 3 wide receivers, without their number 1 running back, their starting device was correct and their starting guard was correct. In the end, Zach Ertz played with an injured kidney. And that was just the offense.
The fact that the Eagles won their last four regular season games to conquer NFC East and reach the playoffs was a credit to head coach Doug Pederson. With a squad full of practice players and pickups in the postseason, the Eagles made "Next Man Up" a collective call. But losing Wentz felt like a death blow.
McCown did his best and if the football gods felt sorry for them they would have somehow found a way to win. Every time McCown stops in the NFL, he has a reputation for being a great teammate.
"He was a big supporter," said Wentz of McCown last week. "When he works with him, whether it's good, bad or ugly, he's always there to talk about how he sees the game. It's good to have a man who is excited when someone else succeeds . "
The Eagles' hopes of progress were in McCown's hands. Nick Foles had saved Philadelphia in the past two seasons when Wentz was injured and led her to Super Bowl victory two years ago. But Foles signed a free agent contract with Jacksonville last season, and the Eagles signed McCown to be Wentz's replacement.
Sunday's game should have been a mismatch: McCown saw his first playoff at age 40 against Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, which started his 14th career playoff. The Seahawks were 7-1 this season, including a 17-9 win over the Eagles in November.
But there was McCown, who kept the Eagles 17: 9 behind in the fourth quarter. Jake Elliott's field goals 46, 26 and 38 meters away kept the Eagles within striking distance when McCown put Philadelphia in the goal with his arm and legs. But they needed a touchdown that never came.