PHILADELPHIA — Josh McCown tore his left hamstring before halftime Sunday. The Eagles didn’t have any more quarterbacks active in their NFC wild-card round playoff loss to Seattle, so McCown kept playing.
That was what Carson Wentz’s 40-year-old backup told the ThomaHawk podcast this week, hosted by former Cleveland Browns teammates Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins. ESPN reported Friday that McCown faces surgery and will need about six months to recover. He will be unable to straighten his left leg for about six weeks. The surgery probably will take place in Charlotte, N.C., McCown’s offseason home.
The NFL Network reported that McCown had torn his hamstring off the bone during the game.
McCown entered the Eagles’ 17-9 loss late in the first quarter after Wentz suffered a concussion. The starting QB went down and out on Philly’s second offensive series after Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hit Wentz as he was going down following a run. The Eagles had chosen not to activate third QB Nate Sudfeld. Wide receiver Greg Ward was a quarterback in college at Houston and could have taken emergency snaps.
“Football and 40, I don’t know. It doesn’t blend as well as you might think,” McCown told the podcast. “I made a throw and something sharp bit me back there. As far as I could tell, there were no dogs on the field.”
McCown completed 18 of 24 passes for 174 yards and ran five times for 23 yards against the Seahawks, but he also was sacked six times. He hadn’t taken the field since Oct. 13, and he was running a game plan set up for Wentz, who is more than 13 years younger.
“I’m going to head back over to Lincoln Financial (Field) and see if I can find my hamstring somewhere. … It’s still over there, I think, or halfway down my leg at this point,” McCown joked.
McCown, who started 11 games in 2014 for the Bucs in his one season in Tampa Bay, came out of retirement in August to back up Wentz after Sudfeld suffered a wrist injury in the preseason opener. This was McCown’s 17th NFL season, and his playoff debut. He was emotional after the game, apologizing for not leading the team into the next round.
“A lot of people put a lot of time and energy into this game, and it just hurts when you don’t get it done,” McCown said after Sunday’s loss. “You want to be there and help rally the team and get going, and we just didn’t get that done. So it just hurt for that.”
McCown said Sunday that he hadn’t made any decisions about his future. A six-month injury rehab, with McCown’s 41st birthday coming in July, might complicate a role with the Eagles.
When Eagles coach Doug Pederson wrapped up the season in a Wednesday news conference, he lauded McCown’s contribution, especially as a resource for Wentz. Pederson also said he’d thought Sudfeld was ready to be the No. 2 before his injury, but Pederson didn’t commit to Sudfeld as backup for 2020.
“We’ll see what happens this offseason with him,” Pederson said.
“I’ve never really had any kind of soft tissue injury, never really moved fast enough to pull a hamstring,” McCown said. “I was like, ‘What just happened?’ “
McCown also said he “felt something else pop” in the third quarter, presumably when he made the injury worse. “If you’ve dealt with any of those injuries, when you start to try to move and stuff, there’s no strength or power there. It was like life kind of settling in and hitting me in the face, right there, in the middle of the stadium.”
Pederson said Wednesday that Wentz had recovered well, and that he believed, had the Eagles advanced, Wentz would have been cleared from the league concussion protocol and OK to play. But it turns out, Wentz would not have had McCown in uniform behind him.