PHILADELPHIA – It was only fitting that in a season filled with injuries for the Eagles, their fate rested on the right arm of a 40-year-old backup quarterback, in his first-ever playoff game.
Josh McCown took over for Carson Wentz in the first quarter after Wentz suffered a concussion on a hit by Seattle’s Jadeveon Clowney, a hit many Eagles players thought was dirty and one he should have been penalized for.
Still, like the rest of the Eagles’ backups who have come in this season, McCown was game, and he led three scoring drives.
But all of them resulted in field goals, and that wasn’t enough for the Eagles in their 17-9 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday in an NFC Wildcard playoff game.
CLOWNEY COMES CLEAN: Jadeveon Clowney on hit to Carson Wentz: ‘My intention wasn’t to hurt him’
That upset McCown the most.
“Just the finality of playoff football, and being done, and not getting it done,” he said. “Those things hurt. A lot of people put a lot of time and a lot of energy into this game and it just hurts when you don’t get it done.”
McCown played well enough, completing 18 of 24 passes for 178 yards. But he couldn’t get the Eagles (9-8) into the end zone when it mattered most, as the Eagles missed on two fourth-down chances in the fourth quarter.
On the first, a 4th-and-4 from Seattle’s 24 with 6 1/2 minutes left, McCown threw behind Miles Sanders, who couldn’t hold the pass.
“That was just me. I gotta make a better throw,” McCown said. “Miles is a heck of a player and he’s going to be a special player in this league. I love that kid. I just gotta get him a better ball, and give him a chance to run. And I didn’t do that.”
Sanders said he “probably” would have scored a touchdown on the play, but took the blame for not catching the ball.
“I gotta execute that, no matter how the ball came,” Sanders said. “It hit my hands. I gotta catch it.”
The Seahawks (12-5) move on to face the Green Bay Packers next Sunday at 6:40 p.m. in Green Bay.
The Eagles, meanwhile, will face another offseason of questions after being ravaged by injuries, this time mostly at the wide receiver position.
Four of the five Eagles’ wide receivers on Sunday spent time this season on the practice squad. The fifth was rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, chosen in the second round seven spots ahead of Seahawks rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf.
Metcalf had 7 catches for 160 yards and a back-breaking 53-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Most of the Eagles’ problems defensively came on third down as Seattle converted 8 of 15 chances, with at least three of them coming on beyond 3rd-and-10.
That included the game-clincher, a 3rd-and-10 from Seattle’s 11 with 1:47 to go. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw deep to Metcalf for 36 yards. The Seahawks took a knee from then on to close out the game.
Still, the Eagles kept trying.
While McCown was playing in his first playoff game in 18 seasons, so was Wentz as he was injured in the previous two seasons during the Eagles’ playoff runs.
But his day lasted just six minutes of game time.
Wentz suffered the concussion on a hit to the helmet by Clowney as Wentz was falling forward on a sack by Bradley McDougald with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
Clowney was not flagged for the hit, but he clearly hit Wentz in the helmet with his helmet.
Wentz stayed in the game for the rest of that series, then went into the medical tent, and then the locker room.
Then McCown had to take over with 1:29 left in the first quarter.
“We eliminated some of the motions,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “We just kind of got back to some of the core plays, some of the things Josh was comfortable with in the run game and pass game.”
But the Eagles were out of sync in the first half, and Seattle answered the Eagles’ field goal on Marshawn Lynch’s 5-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left. The TD was set up by David Moore’s 38-yard catch and run.
McCown was in much better rhythm in the second half, but the Eagles kept settling for field goals while the defense couldn’t stop the Seahawks on third down.
The Eagles had a first down at the Seahawks’ 5 on their first drive of the second half on Boston Scott’s 15-yard run. But after a delay of game penalty and a sack, the Eagles had to settle for a field goal.
Seattle answered on Wilson’s 53-yard TD pass to Metcalf for a 17-6 lead.
The Eagles again settled for a field goal to get within 8 points heading into the fourth quarter.
But in the end, the injuries were too much as the Eagles often had a lineup that resembled what they used during meaningless preseason games with McCown at quarterback, Scott at running back and wide receivers Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett and Shelton Gibson.
“It shows (resilience) regardless of the practice squad dudes who stepped up, not being on the active roster and making plays, to guys being banged up and making plays,” cornerback Jalen Mills said. “This is very frustrating because we know we got the talent to win it all and came up short today.
Ertz plays; Graham hurt, returns
Wentz wasn’t the only Eagles starter injured in the game. Defensive end Brandon Graham suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and didn’t return until the second half.
The Eagles also had tight end Zach Ertz in the game Sunday. Ertz missed last week’s game after suffering a rib and back injury on Dec. 22 against Dallas. He had 2 catches for 44 yards.
“I’m not going to get into the details of the injury,” Ertz said. “But it was tough. Monday, after the Cowboys game, I couldn’t get out of bed on my own … As long as (the doctors) were good with it from a health standpoint, I wasn’t going to miss the game.”
Ertz led the Eagles both in receptions (88) and yards (916) during the regular season.
Curry blocks a field goal
Defensive end Vinny Curry blocked a field goal in the first quarter. The Seahawks’ Jason Myers lined up for a 35-yard field goal early in the first quarter when Curry knocked it away.
It was the Eagles’ second blocked field goal of the season. Malcolm Jenkins blocked one against Detroit on Sept. 22. The Eagles also blocked a field goal in the playoffs last season when Treyvon Hester got his finger on Cody Parkey’s potential game-winning field goal for the Bears. The ball hit off the upright twice before bouncing out, preserving the Eagles’ 16-15 win.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.