January 6, 2020
Cindy Boren-The Washington Post
Carson Wentz finally got the chance to play in an NFL playoff game Sunday, but the oft-injured quarterback didn’t make it out of the first quarter.
He headed for the sideline and then into the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion after a scary hit by Jadeveon Clowney of the Seattle Seahawks on the Philadelphia Eagles’ second possession of their first-round playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field. Clowney closed in on him and hit him in the back of the head as they were falling, and Wentz’s forehead slammed against the turf as he landed with Clowney atop him. He missed the rest of the game, which Seattle won, 17-9.
Afterward, Clowney and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson expressed concern for Wentz.
“I was just playing fast and he turned like he was running the ball, so I was trying to get him down,” said Clowney, who is playing through a core injury that will require surgery when the Seahawks’ season ends. “It was a bang-bang play. I don’t intend to hurt anybody in this league. I’ve been down the injury road and it’s not fun. I hope he’s okay.”
In a classy moment on the field, Wilson approached Eagles Coach Doug Pederson and inquired about Wentz. “Carson okay?” he asked as he shook Pederson’s hand. “Yeah, I think so,” came the reply.
The 27-year-old quarterback was unavailable to reporters after the game because he was in concussion protocol, but he offered an update Monday morning on Instagram, writing that he was “feeling good” and “will be just fine,” while admitting that “head injuries are a scary thing.”
“So dang proud of this team and how we battled and overcame so much this season. Not the ending we envisioned but we will all grow and be stronger because of it!” he wrote “The fight and resiliency that this team displayed was so impressive. Love these guys! Also, appreciate the thoughts and prayers — Im feeling good today and will be just fine! Head injuries are a scary thing so I appreciate everybody’s thoughts and prayers. Hate not being out there to finish it out with my guys because of a play like that, but it’s the unfortunate part of this game. It’s all in Gods plan, not mine! Trusting in him. Philly, year 4 was one fun ride. Appreciate the love and support — especially the real ones who were with us through the highs and lows. Onward to next year… big things comin’, believe that! #flyeaglesfly”
There was no flag on the play and referee Shawn Smith explained to a pool reporter that Wentz “was a runner, and he did not give himself up. We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment, we didn’t rule that to be a foul.”
Wentz immediately appeared shaken although he got up with help from a lineman and remained in the game for four plays. After that, he sought medical attention as Josh McCown, a 40-year-old, 17-year NFL veteran who was working for ESPN when he was signed by the Eagles, took over. ESPN reported that Wentz’s wife had been escorted to the locker room area and that once he was taken from the sideline medical tent to the locker area for further evaluation, the level of concern increased.
“He is sitting there not feeling right and, obviously, knew he needed to get checked,” McCown said. “I think for the state of our game and the questions that come around those types of injuries, I think it’s a step forward. It’s progress because it’s the right thing.
“He was smart by getting checked and doing those things and making sure he was all right.”
It was a sobering sight to watch Wentz head for the locker room and it took the air out of the Eagles’ home stadium. The moment hardly seemed fair for a hard-luck quarterback who had accomplished a great deal in four NFL seasons. In 2016, he set the NFL rookie record with 379 completions and the next year he was third in MVP voting. With the Eagles going 25-15 in his starts the past three seasons, the Eagles rewarded Wentz with a four-year contract extension worth $107.9 million in guaranteed salary, which at the time was the highest mark in the league.
As vital as he has been to the Eagles, he famously was replaced by Nick Foles during the team’s Super Bowl appearance after the 2017 season because he tore his ACL in a Week 14 win over the Los Angeles Rams and could only look on as the Eagles upset the Patriots. Last year, he was shut down because of a back injury after Week 14 and Foles again led Philly to the playoffs. Face with the impossibility of keeping both Foles and Wentz on the roster, the team let Foles depart for Jacksonville in the offseason.
That left him excited about his first chance to play in a postseason game.
“I’m grateful to be healthy and be in this moment with these guys, to be on the field,” Wentz said last week. “I’m just excited for the challenge. I’ve been on the sidelines the last few years for these games, so I’m pretty pumped for the opportunity.”