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Carson Wentz’s health remains most important to Eagles moving forward

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles will spend the coming weeks and months thinking about what might have been if not for the hit by Jadeveon Clowney on quarterback Carson Wentz in the first quarter of their 17-9 wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Wentz made it through the regular season unscathed — an encouraging development after back-to-back seasons cut short due to injury — but played only eight snaps in his playoff debut. Clowney hit Wentz in the helmet and upper back as they crashed into the ground, forcing Wentz to exit because of a head injury.

Quarterback Josh McCown became the first player in NFL history to make his postseason debut at 40 years old, and the 18-year vet filled in admirably (18-of-24, 174 yards), but there wasn’t enough firepower to keep up with quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.

The Eagles were torn apart by injuries all season, particularly on offense, which was operating without all three of its original wide receivers and the entire right side of the starting offensive line Sunday. Tight end Zach Ertz was playing with a broken rib and lacerated kidney.

Through the loss of starters came opportunity, and the Eagles learned they have some promising players in the likes of running backs Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, tight end Dallas Goedert and receiver Greg Ward. But the Eagles need to stack the roster with more young talent, and hope Wentz can stay healthy to guide them.

Pivotal play: Besides the play that knocked Wentz out, the biggest impact moment came when Wilson connected with DK Metcalf for a 53-yard touchdown near the midway point of the third quarter. The duo just missed on a couple of big plays in the first matchup between these teams Week 12, but they made amends. Metcalf turned on the jets to get past Avonte Maddox, did a catch and roll, then got to his feet and powered into the end zone to put Seattle up 11. The Eagles’ secondary was susceptible to the big play all season.

The Seahawks’ defense stopped Philadelphia deep in Seattle territory twice down the stretch to preserve the lead.

Eye-popping stat: McCown was 40 years, 185 days old Sunday in his NFL postseason debut. That’s the exact same age (40, 185) Tom Brady was on the date of his Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles on Feb. 4, 2018. That game was Brady’s 37th career postseason start.

The 17-9 final was identical to the Week 12 outcome between these two teams.

Silver lining: Goedert had seven catches for 73 yards in the loss. With better luck and better talent at receiver next year, the Eagles should have a solid passing attack, with Ertz and Goedert commanding attention over the middle.

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