PHILADELPHIA – Sadness was everywhere.
It was the way quarterback Carson Wentz’s wife, Maddie, walked through the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field carrying her husband’s suit, the one Wentz was supposed to wear at his postgame press conference, but never made it there because a concussion drove him from the game in the first quarter of Sunday’s season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
It was the way backup quarterback Josh McCown, shortly after leaving the field and before entering the locker room, squatted down, and began to cry.
That’s the way sudden endings are, and this one, a 17-9 wild card playoff defeat, was just that.
McCown was overcome with emotion because, well, he just doesn’t know if that was all she wrote for his career.
Wentz knows he will return next season.
At 40, and a veteran of 17 years, McCown has no idea, yet.
“Just the finality of playoff football, being done, and not getting it done,” said McCown. “Those things hurt. A lot of people put a lot of time and energy into this game. It just hurts when you don’t get it done. You want to help rally the team to keep going and I didn’t get it done, and it just hurts.”
McCown was 18-for-24 for 174 yards in relief of Wentz but could not get the Eagles into the end zone.
They were the first playoff snaps of his career, and it took until his ninth team to have it happen, making him the oldest quarterback in NFL history to make his playoff debut at the age of 40.
The previous oldest was Vince Evans of the Raiders, who was 35 years, 220 days when he replaced Jay Schroeder in a 51-3 loss to the Bills in 1990.
Asked if in his postgame news conference if he had given any thought to the fact that he had taken his first playoff snaps, McCown got emotional again.
“I’ll probably reflect on that later,” he said through tears. “Again, it’s probably with a sour taste, but I’m thankful. My wife and family have moved around a lot and have been there for me. To go out there in a playoff game was special.
"I can’t thank them enough for their support. It was a heckuva ride. I left it all out there, I know that much. It’s different playing at 40. Your body talks to you a lot. I’ll reflect on that later, but it was fun to be out there for sure.”
Seattle made it painful, though.
The Seahawks sacked McCown six times, including on a fourth-and four play right after the two-minute warning after the Eagles had made it to the Seattle 10-yard line, needing a touchdown and two-point conversion to even the score 17-17 and maybe give the NFL a third overtime game on wildcard weekend.
It wasn’t meant to be, though.
“We had an audible on the play, and we alerted it,” said McCown. “If it didn’t get communicated clear enough, that’s on me. We didn’t get it done. They did a good job covering the guys we wanted, and I tried to step up to buy a little time and hopefully get something open. We just didn’t get that done.”
McCown is known around the NFL as one of the all-time great teammates. He had done a lot for the Eagles behind the scenes this season, working with practice squad players who would eventually make major contributions to an offense overwhelmed by injuries.
When it came time for McCown to play, he gave it his best shot. And if this turns out to be his last game, he should be proud that he left it all on the field.