NFL playoffs

NFL’s former VP of officiating calls Clowney hit ‘a cheap shot'

NFL’s former VP of officiating calls Clowney hit ‘a cheap shot'

If you think the Jadeveon Clowney hit that knocked Carson Wentz out of the Eagles’ playoff game on Sunday was a cheap shot, you’re not alone. 

FOX rules analyst and former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira was on 94WIP on Tuesday and he agrees with you. 

Here’s what Pereira said about the play: 

I think it was a cheap shot. And the reason that I base it on that is on regular speed video and not slow motion. … I mean, he takes a shot. Listen, I don’t think Clowney tried to hurt anybody but I do think he tried to punish him. That was my opinion of the play. Needlessly punish him. 

And for those who don’t think it was cheap, then I would say I respect your opinion, but do me a favor and go back and look at it in real time, the live shot, which seldom do the networks go back and show. Some of them don’t even record the original line feed. But go back and look at that and tell me it was not necessary. To me, unnecessary equates to cheap. That’s my view on the play. 

Pereira said he thinks the play should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless player. 

He explained that, sure, Wentz loses certain protections as a quarterback when he becomes a runner. But Pereira argued that Wentz was going to the ground when Clowney hit him and Wentz was “absolutely” defenseless at that point. 

“I mean, Wentz is heading to the ground, he actually hit the ground about the same time as the contact occurs,” Pereira said. “You could look at it and say, you could make it somewhat similar to a quarterback giving himself up. The defender, talking about Clowney here, is beginning to start to make the tackle. And so you can say if he hit him in the body, if he hit him in the back, he would be OK. But as a defenseless player, since he’s on his way to the ground or on the ground, you have to stay away from the head or neck area.”

NFL Network on Tuesday reported that the league won’t suspend Clowney for the hit but is looking into the possibility of a fine.

Pereira is very interested to see if the NFL fines Clowney but thinks there’s a good chance it doesn’t because the refs are already on record saying it shouldn’t have been a penalty. 

Referee Shawn Smith told a pool reporter after the game there was not a penalty called because they deemed the contact “incidental.”

Pereira on Tuesday wasn’t buying that. He called the hit “unnecessary and forceful.” 

You can listen to the full interview here: 

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'Their fans hate me for some reason' — Jadeveon Clowney discusses hits on Carson Wentz, Nick Foles

'Their fans hate me for some reason' — Jadeveon Clowney discusses hits on Carson Wentz, Nick Foles

Jadeveon Clowney had a big game Sunday, and his Seahawks are advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs. Yet, the three-time Pro Bowler wasn’t looking forward to reading his mentions on social media after knocking Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz out of the game with a concussion.

With one hit to Wentz’s head and neck area as the quarterback was going to the ground, Clowney changed the entire complexion of the game, and possibly the Eagles’ season. The offense never recovered from the loss of its field general, failing to find the end zone in a 17-9 defeat which eliminated the team from the postseason (see observations).

But while there will be a never-ending debate as to whether Clowney’s hit was cheap or dirty (see story) — at least outside Philadelphia — the defensive end insisted it was a clean play.

“I was just playing fast,” Clowney said from the visitors’ locker room postgame. “He turned like he was running the ball, so I was trying to get him down.

“It was a bang-bang play. I don’t intend to hurt nobody in this league. Let’s spit that out there. I’ve been down the injury road. It ain’t fun. My intention wasn’t to hurt him.”

Wentz was attempting to scramble when Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald tripped him up for a sack. As Wentz lunged forward toward the ground, Clowney lowered his shoulder and made contact around his upper back. Clowney then landed on Wentz, driving his head into the turf.

At the very least, the hit appeared to be unnecessary as Wentz was already going down regardless. There was also the appearance Clowney made helmet-to-helmet contact or hit the quarterback high, though a closer look the replay shows that may not have been the case.

Clowney denied he made contact with his helmet. He said he’s not expecting a fine for the hit, either. In fact, he discussed the play with an official afterward.

“Nobody flagged me,” Clowney said. “They didn’t say anything. I asked the ref what he thinks, if it was personal foul, he said, ‘I dunno, it’s kind of a bang-bang play.’

“He didn’t think so, so that’s why he didn’t throw it. If he thought so, I think he would’ve threw the flag, but he didn’t think so, so I’m moving on past it.”

Seattle perspective: Clowney calls Eagles fans 'the worst fans in the world'

Clowney could not deny, however, Wentz’s departure hampered the Eagles’ offense significantly.

“A lot,” Clowney said. “When you’ve got to play the backup quarterback, there’s only so many plays that they can run, and when you don’t game plan for him all week, it kind of puts him in a tough situation. Of course it helped us out the rest of that game being with Josh McCown in the game.”

Eagles fans were obviously distressed about the no-call — that their quarterback was out of the game, but Clowney was not ejected — and it’s not the first time the city had beef with Clowney.

Last season, Clowney delivered a devastating shot to Nick Foles’ chest, which left the quarterback writhing on the ground. The officials threw a flag and the NFL fined Clowney, though he claimed the fine was later rescinded.

“I tried to tell them boys on my team, I said, ‘This team hates me. Their fans hate me for some reason,’” Clowney said. “They think I tried to kill Nick Foles. You remember that play? It was bang-bang. I didn’t take him to the ground, either.”

The difference is Foles was OK. This time, Clowney dramatically altered the course of the Eagles’ season.

With five tackles, two tackles for a loss, a sack and a knockout blow, Clowney cemented his place as one of the worst villains in Philly sports history — up there with former Panthers linebacker Greg Favors, who injured Donovan McNabb with a questionable hit during the 2003 NFC Championship game.

Whatever you think of Clowney though, he walked out of Lincoln Financial Field wishing the best for Wentz, but feeling vindicated it was a legal hit.

“That’s a great player over there. For their team and for their organization, I hope he’s OK,” Clowney said.

“Like I said, I didn’t intend to hurt him. I didn’t even know he went out of the game until the next series. It was a small hit. Everybody was going crazy. It’s not like I even hit him hard. I was just trying to finish the play, but it happened and I hope he’s OK.”

 

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'You let those people down' — Josh McCown blames himself for Eagles' playoff loss to Seahawks

'You let those people down' — Josh McCown blames himself for Eagles' playoff loss to Seahawks

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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