Josh McCown broke down in tears as he grasped the reality.
After 18 NFL seasons without a playoff appearance, after coming out of retirement to back up Carson Wentz, McCown was forced into action in the first quarter of the Eagles-Seahawks playoff game Sunday at the Linc.
"I've been chasing this a long time," he said.
McCown played hard and he played fearlessly and he made some plays that gave you hope.
In the end, he just didn't do enough.
And the Eagles' season is over.
McCown didn't try to hide his emotions when the Seahawks put the finishing touches on their second 17-9 win over the Eagles in a month and a half (see observations).
The tears flowed, and they picked right up again when he met with the media after the game.
There's a lot that goes into this and everybody that sets foot in that building over there, the NovaCare, puts a lot into getting this thing done and when you come into that game and put everything you can into trying to win the game and it doesn't get done, it's just painful," he said. "It just hurts. It sucks. And from my standpoint as a quarterback you want to do more and you feel like you can do more and you start replaying plays in your mind where you can be better, and I always have that perspective that you let a group down. You let those people down that come to that building and that's a sick feeling. It's a hurt feeling.
McCown, the sixth quarterback in his 40s in NFL history to play in the postseason, finished 18 for 24 for 174 yards with no TDs and no turnovers, and he drove the Eagles inside the Seahawks' 30-yard line five times.
But those five drives led to just three field goals.
He kept the Eagles in the game.
He just wasn't good enough at the key moments.
You want to be there to help rally the team and get going, we just didn't get it done," McCown said. "And that hurts.
With Wentz, the Eagles were third best in the NFL in the red zone. Sunday, three trips generated just six points.
Two crucial fourth downs doomed the Eagles.
• With 6:24 left trailing by eight, they had a 4th-and-4 on Seattle's 24. Doug Pederson called a perfect play, a swing pass in the left flat to Miles Sanders. But McCown underthrew the ball, Sanders couldn't quite get his hands on it, and the Seahawks took over.
"That's just me," McCown said. "You've got to make a better throw. Just got to give him a better ball and give him a chance to run."
• After the defense forced a punt, the Eagles drove down to the 10-yard line and had a 4th-and-7 after the two-minute warning. But McCown couldn't find an open receiver and wound up taking his sixth sack of the game, effectively ending the Eagles' season.
"I tried to step up and buy a little time and hopefully get something open, and we just didn't get that done," he said.
McCown said he hasn't decided whether to retire for good. He said he'd talk to his family before making that decision.
But he got choked up talking about his family and how much they've sacrificed as he's gone from the Cards to the Lions to the Raiders to the Dolphins to the Panthers to the Bears to the Buccaneers to the Browns to the Jets to the Eagles.
With a stop with the Hartford Colonials in the United Football League in there somewhere.
My wife and my family have moved around a lot and been there for me, my mom and dad, so to go out there and get to play in a playoff game was special and I can't thank them enough for their support," he said. "It was a heck of a ride. I left it all out there, I know that much.
McCown has had a terrific view of this 2019 Eagles team, and his feelings were about the same as everybody else's as he described the mixture of pride everyone in that locker room has of becoming only the seventh team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 5-7 start combined with the crushing finality and disappointment of a playoff loss.
I've been in moments where we were five weeks ago, where you're coming home on a plane ride from Miami and you feel like all is lost and, man, it's a dark place," McCown said. "And then you're talking and you're, ‘Can we win all these games and get in?' And I've been in those moments a few times in my career and we don't get it done. You know? And it goes the other way. Man, what an honor it was to be in that group and watch Doug lead that team, watch the veterans lead this team, watch Carson play the way he did down the stretch. That's special and more than anything solidifies what I thought in all those moments. If the belief of the group can rise to a certain level, we can run the table, and we did that and we got in. Unfortunately, that ended today.
McCown is a great story, easy to root for. He just wasn't quite good enough.
And nothing could be a more fitting epitaph for this 2019 Eagles season.
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