PHILADELPHIA — In the moments after the Seahawks’ 17-9 playoff victory, Jadeveon Clowney gave Eagles fans one more reason to hate him.
He had waved coming onto the field for pregame warmups at Lincoln Financial Field, just as he does, he said, before every game. But he knew his last wave — as he exited the field Sunday night, and as angry Eagles fans stomped out of the stadium — was a little spicier than the ones before.
“I wave at everybody. I’m a friendly guy,” the Seahawks defensive end said. “I like to wave. They hated me. I don’t know why. I’m trying to be friends. I’m a friendly guy.”
He said that with a smile and touch of sarcasm. Eagles fans, he knows, have hated him since last season, when he came to Philadelphia with his old team, the Texans, and terrorized then-Eagles QB Nick Foles. (At one point, Clowney sacked Foles by pulling him down by the side of his helmet; no flag was thrown for what looked like a clear face-mask penalty, enraging Philly fans.)
In the first quarter Sunday, Eagles QB Carson Wentz left the game with a concussion after a hit from Clowney. Wentz was diving forward at the end of a run, and Clowney lowered his shoulder, connecting his shoulder to Wentz’s back and his helmet to the QB’s helmet.
No flag was thrown — again, much to the ire of Eagles fans.
“It was a dirty hit,” Eagles left tackle Jason Peters said he told Clowney on the field.
Clowney said he wasn’t trying to hit Wentz in the head.
“I was just playing fast. He turned like he was running the ball and I was trying to get him down,” Clowney said. “It was a bang-bang play. I don’t intend to hurt nobody in this league. …
“I didn’t even think I hit him with my helmet. I don’t intend to hurt nobody. That’s a great player over there for their team and their organization. I hope he is OK. I didn’t even know he went out of the game until the next series. It was just a small hit. Everybody was going crazy (in the stands). But it happened and I hope he is OK.”
Some in Philly lashed out at Clowney on his Instagram page.
“They usually light me up,” he said. “Tell me: ‘Go to hell … die! … go to prison … you and your family, all y’all.’ You should have seen the messages from last year. There might be death threats this week.”
Game referee Shawn Smith was asked by a pool reporter about Clowney’s hit on Wentz.
“He was a runner, and he did not give himself up,” Smith said. “We saw incidental helmet contact, and in our judgment we didn’t rule that to be a foul.”
Josh McCown, the Eagles’ 40-year-old backup QB, replaced Wentz and surprised the Seahawks with his mobility. Still, the Seahawks were credited with a season-high seven sacks.
Clowney, ever the showman, had the final sack of McCown in the game’s biggest moment, a fourth-and-four4 play with 1:56 play at the Seattle 10-yard line.
“He was really on fire, I thought, just kind of (an) impact with the rest of the guys and the way he was playing,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It was just the way he was competing in this game and his mentality was really there.
“He felt the best he’s felt in a while, thankfully, and hopefully we can find a way to get him that way next week (at Green Bay).”
Clowney rarely left the field Sunday, a week after playing a season-low 33 snaps in the loss to San Francisco. He said he was frustrated by the limited usage against the 49ers.
Clowney has been managing a groin/core muscle injury since Nov. 11, and Seahawks coaches have been carefully monitoring his workload.
He told coaches not to hold him back against the Eagles.
“If I’m going to dress out, I’m going to give it my all. If I’m hurt, I’ll tell them before and I wouldn’t play,” he said. “If I’m up, I’m really up. Like, (expletive) the injury. Just play your game and have fun. That’s what I felt like today. When I dress, I told the coach: ‘I’m here. Don’t be sitting me.’
“Last week I was frustrated. I told them: ‘This week, let me play my game and let me play through the pain and the injury and try help my team win.'”