PHILADELPHIA – Josh McCown had tears in his eyes when the Seahawks defeated the Eagles 17: 9 in an NFC wildcard playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon.
But the tears were a mixture of the disappointment associated with losing the last game of a season and the joy of finally experiencing something he had "pursued" during his 17-year career in the NFL.
Losing is never good for a professional athlete, especially if he loses a post-season game that seemed unlikely a month ago. The injured Eagles came from 5-7 to win four games in a row and conquer NFC East. They dreamed of reaching the Super Bowl again. The fact that it won't happen has devastated McCown.
"If you come into a game and do everything you can to win the game and it doesn't make it, it's painful," said McCown. “From my perspective, it feels like as a quarterback you want to do more. You feel like you're letting people down. It's a bad feeling. "
Not all of McCown's feelings related to the defeat. There was great satisfaction and gratitude there too. When Carson Wentz, who started the quarterback, suffered a head injury in the Eagles' second offensive series and failed the rest of the game, McCown experienced his first post-season action since joining the league in the third round of the Cardinals in 2002.
He had announced his resignation in the off-season after working for two years with the Jets, and thought a career as a trainer or broadcaster was in his future. But after Nick Foles signed a free agent contract with the Jaguars, the Eagles needed a backup quarterback behind Wentz and persuaded McCown to come to Philadelphia. He was on site in two regular season games and was ready to support Wentz until the quarterback was completely out of action after a goal by Jadeveon Clowney from Seahawks defensive end.
Enter 40-year-old McCown, who tried to collect the broken Eagles that are now playing without their starting quarter back, their top 3 wide receivers, their number 1 back, their start right, and their start guard. The tight end Zach Ertz was playing with an injured kidney.
Losing Wentz was a big blow to the Eagles. He had missed the last two postseasons with injuries and was "grateful" for getting into the playoffs for the first time. But that ended when Clowney drilled him, a goal that could have taken a penalty but not one.
McCown completed 18 of 24 passes for 174 yards and moved the offensive well enough to generate 46, 26 and 38 yard field goals from Jake Elliott. But the Eagles never got the touchdown they needed. Her last chance came in fourth and seventh at Seattle 10, two minutes before the game ended. McCown was released, which was essentially a broken piece.
"It hurts if you don't make it," he said. “You want to help bring the team together and get them going. We just didn't get it going. "
However, that is not the moral of the story. If the Eagles were a team of perseverance in surviving a number of injuries and winning the division, McCown embodied this by finally playing a playoff after playing Cardinals, Lions, Hunters, Panthers, Bears, Bucs, Browns and contested jets.
"My wife and family moved a lot and were there for me. My parents too," said McCown. "Going out there and playing in a playoff game was special. I can't thank them enough for their support. It was one damn ride. I left everything out there. I know so much. "
McCown, who was in tears again, said he wasn't sure if he would play another season.
"It's different at 40," he said. "Your body speaks a lot to you. Still, I think it was more fun than anything else to be out there anyway. "