The Eagles had to rely on a backup quarterback a playoff game once again. With Nick Foles long gone, this time 40-yard-old Josh McCown was called in.
The NFL journeyman signal caller came in for starter Carson Wentz, who left the wild card game against the Seahawks in the first quarter after taking a big hit from Jadeveon Clowney. McCown had to play the rest of the game, as Wentz was later ruled out of the game after being evaluated for a concussion.
Although the Eagles lost 17-9 at home to Seattle to eliminate them from the postseason, McCown deserves credit for what he did. Despite only attempting five passes all season, McCown stepped with a bunch of no-names in his receiving corps and showed heart. The Eagles’ receiving corps has been decimated by injuries this year, part of the constant bad injury luck Philadelphia has had all season.
McCown finished 18-of-24 passing with 174 yards and 23 yards rushing. Not to mention he did that as the oldest player to make his postseason debut in NFL history. After the game, he shared an emotional moment with Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, on the field and on the way to the locker room:
Josh McCown gave it all he had. Really emotional here at the end with Zach Ertz consoling him.pic.twitter.com/VmV7iii8Es— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 6, 2020
He was emotional during his postgame press conference too.
“It was a heck of a ride. I left it all out there, I know that much.”— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 6, 2020
Josh McCown gives an emotional reflection about his playoff debut. pic.twitter.com/2jrnhOjpCF
“To get to go out there and play in a playoff game was special,” McCown said. “It was a heck of a ride. I left it all out there, I know that much.”
McCown has been a true journeyman throughout the league.
McCown has been in the league since 2002, getting drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round. He started in just 22 games over four seasons with the Cardinals. Some of the players he’s played with sums up the length of his career pretty well:
Josh McCown handed the ball to Emmitt Smith for his final TD.— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) January 5, 2020
He threw it to Larry Fitzgerald for his first TD.
Now he’s running around in a 2020 playoff game. Amazing career. Love him. pic.twitter.com/OOv8ESQ696
From then on he spent time with the Raiders, Panthers Lions, Bears, Bucs, and Browns. In 2017 and 2018 he was with the Jets, where he made 16 starts, most of them during New York’s 5-8 season in 2017.
In July 2019, McCown announced his retirement from the NFL by writing a letter to the Players’ Tribune:
“I guess it just goes to show that you don’t always get to choose your own path,” McCown wrote. “But looking back, I’m proud of how my career has gone. I don’t shy away from the journeyman label. I embrace it, full force.
”Because it’s been one heck of a journey.
”And now, strange as it feels to say, after 17 years ... that journey is coming to an end.
”Today I’m officially retiring.”
During his retirement, McCown was working as an analyst for ESPN while coaching high school football in Charlotte, N.C. But the Eagles came calling in August when their two backup quarterbacks, Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler, suffered injuries during the preseason. McCown came out of retirement to sign a reported $2 million deal with the Eagles.
“There were only a certain number of teams I think I would be interested in and that met the criteria I talked about, and this was certainly one of them,” McCown said via Delaware Online. “It was cool when this opportunity came up and we started to talk about it as a family. They were excited, and they were like, ‘Man, you gotta go.’”
Since Wentz has stayed pretty healthy all season up until this point, McCown saw his first real game action during this playoff game. He completed three passes for 24 yards in Week 2 against the Falcons, filling in for Wentz briefly during that game.
It’s not easy to be thrown into the fire in a playoff game, but McCown gave it his best effort.
He couldn’t get the win, but McCown didn’t shy away from trying to make big plays.
Tight end Dallas Goedert was McCown’s favorite target on the night, getting seven catches for 73 yards.
.@JoshMcCown12 throws a strike to @goedert33 to give the @Eagles a fresh set of downs! #FlyEaglesFly #NFLPlayoffs— NFL (@NFL) January 5, 2020
: #SEAvsPHI on NBC
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/NEt2BwLKa5 pic.twitter.com/nXXXrYHzCX
Despite being up a couple times in this game and taking six sacks, he still gave it his all on the Eagles’ last drive, even as he was seen limping during it. Philly had a chance to tie it with two minutes left, but McCown was sacked on fourth down to give Seattle the victory.
Sunday’s game certainly didn’t end how McCown would have wanted, but you have to tip your cap to him for what he was able to do given his circumstances.