Not even halfway through the first quarter, quarterback Carson Wentz absorbed a huge hit in the back of the head from Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney following a first-down sack by safety Bradley McDougald. No penalty flag was thrown, and he trotted off the field following the five-play drive. Everyone thought all was well, until Wentz entered the blue medical tent. Wentz then walked to the locker room with his head down and trainers by his side.
"I saw it on the sideline. I kind of thought it was late," tight end Zach Ertz said of Clowney who used his helmet to spear the franchise quarterback. "I kind of knew something was wrong right away by the way he got up. Devastated for my guy."
Wentz did not return to the game as he was placed in concussion protocol, but his teammates did not forget the hit. When asked about it after the game, nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters did not hold back on the exchange he had with Clowney on the line after the controversial hit.
"I just told him that was a dirty play and he was like, 'My bad,' and we just kept playing," Peters said. "I just kept reminding him, stay off my quarterback. I saw the replay and I just told him stay off my quarterback. That's a dirty, dirty play."
At the conclusion of the game, referee Shawn Smith addressed the play that sidelined Wentz and left the Eagles without their starting quarterback. His analysis was based on what he saw on the field.
"He was a runner and he did not give himself up," said Smith, who did not see a replay of the hit. "We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment, we didn't rule that to be foul."
Clowney finished the game with five tackles, one quarterback hit, and one sack. When asked about the intention of his hit after the game, Clowney was honest and said he was just "playing fast."
"He turned like he was running the ball, so I was trying to get him down," Clowney said. "It was a bang-bang play. I don't intend to hurt anybody in this league, let me just put that out there."
Head coach Doug Pederson said he didn't see the hit by Clowney. He would not comment on the referees' lack of a flag on the play.
"I feel bad for him. I wanted this for him," Pederson said of Wentz. "He's battled through a lot."
When the game came to an end and the Eagles could not pull of the victory, they were greeted in the locker room by the man whose stellar play over the final quarter of the season helped put them in this playoff position: Carson Wentz. Running back Boston Scott spoke to the importance of having a guy like Wentz at the helm of this team through the highs and the lows.
"He's an incredible leader," Scott said. "He's our brother. He cares and we care about him. He went to each and every person in their locker and congratulated them on their season. That's how you know he cares."