PHILADELPHIA — Sunday had to be a bittersweet day for Jacksonville's Josh McCown.
Playing in his 17th season in the National Football League, the 40-year-old backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles made NFL history by being the oldest player to make a post season debut.
McCown was pressed into duty when Eagle starter Carson Wentz was forced to leave the NFC Wild Card playoff game between Philadelphia and Minnesota, which was played in front of nearly 70,000 people at Lincoln Financial Field in the City of Brotherly Love.
For the record, Minnesota (12-6) won the game, 17-9, which was the same score that the Vikings defeated the NFC East-champion Eagles (9-8) by when the two clubs faced off on Nov. 24 during the regular season.
McCown saw extensive duty on Sunday as Wentz hit his head hard against the turf after being tackled around the 9:00 mark of the first quarter.
This was the first time the journeyman actually played in the post season; no doubt something that he will remember for a long, long time. McCown served as a backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers in the post season of 2008, but he didn't play.
McCown, even at an advanced age for an NFL quarterback, turned in a gritty performance, despite his team coming out on the short end of the scoreboard.
He completed 18 of 24 passes for 174 yards (no touchdowns or interceptions) and he rushed five times for 23 yards, for an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
One of McCown's passes was caught by Greg Ward, a former John Tyler High School quarterback, who went on to play for the Houston Cougars.
Ward, 16 years younger than McCown, caught a 16-yard reception to keep a drive alive in the second half.
McCown threw the ball well, was the second leading rusher on the day for the Eagles and pressed on after apparently tweaking an upper leg or lower hip muscle late in the game.
Just an all-out gritty effort in a high-stakes game.
As he exited the field, McCown was overcome by emotion.
At one point on the way to the Eagle dressing room he stopped and dropped to one knee, in tears.
In the post game press conference McCown explained the thoughts that were going through his mind at the time.
“Just the finality of playoff football,” he said. “It just hurts when you don't get it done.”
McCown's performance has been dissected and described in many ways.
Perhaps the most fitting was expressed in a tweet that Andrew Hawkins — a six-year NFL veteran wide receiver who played with McCown in Cleveland in 2015 — sent to McCown on Sunday evening.
“What a ride man. You left it all on the field, and BALLED out bro! Haven't been that excited watching a game in a long time man,” Hawkins said.
“Three quarterbacks over the age of 40 played in the playoffs … and damn if you out played them all.”