Wild Card Weekend nearly ended with a storybook finish for 40-year-old Josh McCown.
The 17-year NFL veteran was thrust into his first ever playoff action after Carson Wentz suffered a head injury in the first quarter.
Trailing 17-9 with two minutes remaining, McCown lined up in the shotgun with the ball at the Seahawks' 10-yard line. The Eagles, down 17-9, needed 7 yards for a first down. However, the pocket collapsed, McCown tried to step up, and was brought down by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as Seattle held on to advance to the Divisional Round on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson said that McCown changed the play at the line of scrimmage, but not everyone got the call and that led to the breakdown.
Clowney ended the Eagles' run with that sack, but it was his late hit that sidelined the team's franchise quarterback in his first playoff game.
On the first play of the Eagles' second drive, with 9:41 remaining in the first quarter, Wentz was sacked by Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald. After Wentz fell to the ground, he was then speared in the back of the head by Clowney, who intentionally led with his helmet as he drove it into Wentz. The quarterback finished the series that spanned five plays and an additional one that did not count due to a penalty. Following the drive, he went to the blue medical tent on the sideline and then headed into the locker room for further evaluation. He never returned to the sideline and was officially ruled out just after halftime.
"I feel bad for him. I wanted this for him," Pederson said of Wentz's injury. "He's battled through a lot."
Pederson said he didn't see the hit by Clowney. He would not comment on the referees' lack of a flag on the play.
McCown, who played all of 15 offensive snaps this season, was in the spotlight and he kept the Eagles in the game. He finished 18-of-24 for 174 yards, good for a 94.8 QB rating. The Seahawks, however, sacked the Eagles' quarterbacks seven times (McCown six) after only taking passers down 28 times in the regular season.
Running back Miles Sanders gained 69 rushing yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, to pace the rushing attack in Wentz's absence. Sanders was limited all week in practice due to an ankle injury. Tight end Dallas Goedert was the go-to option for McCown, catching seven passes for 73 yards. Tight end Zach Ertz, who missed the Week 17 win over the Giants with back and ribs injuries, returned to gain 44 yards on two catches and also drew a pair of holding penalties.
Without Wentz, the defense had to hold the Seahawks' offense in check. Quarterback Russell Wilson killed the Eagles with both his arm and his legs. He gained 45 yards on the ground to lead Seattle's rushing attack. In the air, Wilson was 18-of-30 for 325 yards and a touchdown for a 108.3 QB rating.
Rookie DK Metcalf had seven catches for 160 yards. Metcalf provided the winning points with a 53-yard reception in the third quarter, then iced the game with a 36-yard reception with 1:47 left in the game.
The Eagles were 0-for-2 in the red zone on offense, after ranking third in the league, and 3-of-11 on third down. The Eagles were fourth in the league in third-down offense during the regular season.
The Seahawks converted 8-of-15 third-down opportunities. Five of those conversions were of 10 yards or more.
Check out the best photos from the Eagles' playoff clash with the Seattle Seahawks.
Here's a position-by-position recap of how the Eagles performed:
Carson Wentz was robbed of the chance to impact his first playoff game. In just two series, Wentz was 1-of-4 for 3 yards. Off the bench, Josh McCown was efficient completing 18 of 24 pass attempts for 174 yards. He also gained 23 yards with his legs, including an 11-yard run on a QB keeper to the right side for a first down. The problem came in the red zone where the Eagles were 0-for-3. McCown was 2-of-2 for 8 yards inside Seattle's 20. He was sacked three times and gained 7 yards after a fumbled snap. That doesn't include the fourth-down attempt from Seattle's 24-yard line in the fourth quarter to Miles Sanders in the flat that was incomplete. McCown took responsibility for the throw, which was a little behind Sanders. However, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was in the lane if McCown put it directly on Sanders or in front of him.
Miles Sanders and Boston Scott combined for 94 yards on 20 carries with Sanders leading the way (14-69, 4.9 yards per carry). The Eagles were unable to get anything going with them in the screen game, a vital component of the Eagles' success late in the season. Jordan Howard was active, but did not play.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Tight end Dallas Goedert continued his late-season surge with 73 yards on seven receptions to lead the team. Fellow tight end Zach Ertz, just two weeks removed from a fractured rib and back injury, had two catches for 44 yards, the second most on the team. Ertz also moved the chains by drawing penalties. Wide receiver Greg Ward had three catches for 24 yards. Wide receiver Shelton Gibson didn't have a catch, but ran a go route that drew a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, a gain of 39 yards.
McCown was sacked six times and showed impressive elusiveness to avoid others. Hard to tell how much of that was on the revamped line that didn't have tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks on the right side or rust on McCown's part. The Eagles gained 120 yards on the ground.
Take away Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had 19 yards on 17 carries between Travis Homer (11-12) and Marshawn Lynch (6-7). Lynch's 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter showed his physicality, but the Eagles limited the running backs. However, Wilson was devastating with his legs. Numerous times, the Eagles had him dead to rights and Wilson squirmed his way into a big gain. Wilson had 45 yards on the ground, a big difference from the Week 12 matchup (just 15 yards). To his credit, Fletcher Cox had a monster performance, arguably his best of the season (Buffalo?).
Russell Wilson threw for 325 yards on just 18 completions. The problem is that rookie DK Metcalf, who missed a couple of deep-ball opportunities in the first meeting earlier in the season, didn't this time around. He scored the back-breaking 53-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter and put the game away with a 36-yard catch on the game's final drive. Wilson had six passes of 24 yards or more and another that went for 20. Wilson, who was sacked six times back in November by the Eagles, was only brought down once. Malcolm Jenkins was outstanding with a team-high nine tackles, one sack, and three hits on Wilson.
Vinny Curry blocked a first-quarter field goal attempt. Duke Riley made a nice tackle on a kick return in the second quarter. Jake Elliott connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including a 46-yarder.