EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Josh McCown had the wind knocked out of him, and the New York Jets could only hold their breath.
The 38-year-old quarterback was OK after getting the start — and a big scare — in the preseason finale as the Jets held on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-10 on Thursday night.
“Thankfully, it wasn’t anything serious,” McCown said.
McCown hadn’t played since the opening series of the preseason against Tennessee as the Jets gave youngsters Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty extended looks. Coach Todd Bowles announced Monday that McCown would be the Week 1 starter at Buffalo, and had most of his starting offense on the field for the first two possessions against the Eagles.
But it almost ended in disaster.
McCown took a shot to his chest from Eagles linebacker Joe Walker after completing a 20-yard pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins with 7:13 left in the opening quarter. The quarterback was down on a knee for a few moments before getting to his feet and jogging off the field toward the sideline before going down to a knee again as trainers attended to him.
“I went down so Hack could have a chance to warm up,” McCown said.
Bowles and McCown said the quarterback just needed to catch his breath — and he came back into the game after Hackenberg replaced him for just one play.
“You don’t like your quarterback getting hit, but football is football, whether it’s Week 1 or Week 4 of the preseason,” Bowles said. “You get hurt, you get hurt. That’s the game we play.”
McCown finished 6 of 8 for 57 yards, leading the Jets on a scoring drive that was capped by Chandler Catanzaro’s 28-yard field goal. It was the first time since Mark Sanchez’s rookie season in 2009 that New York started its opening day starter in the preseason finale.
Third-stringer Matt McGloin started for Philadelphia at quarterback, going 14 of 21 for 90 yards and leading the Eagles to a 33-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis before being replaced by rookie Dane Evans.
Hackenberg has struggled for much of the preseason, but capped an 82-yard scoring drive in the second quarter with a 12-yard touchdown toss to an outstretched Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who caught the ball while falling backward.
Hackenberg was 10 of 22 for 105 yards while finishing the game.
Evans got the Eagles within six points midway through the fourth quarter when he scrambled to his left and found a wide-open Marcus Johnson , who streaked to the end zone 41 yards untouched for a touchdown.
With the Jets trying to run out the clock, Marcus Murphy fumbled and Philadelphia recovered. Evans marched the Eagles down the field, but couldn’t connect with Bryce Treggs in the end zone in the final seconds on fourth-and-goal from the 8.
Running back Matt Forte was one of the few Jets starters to not play. He dealt with a hamstring injury for most of training camp, but is healthy and played in the previous game against the Giants. … Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles did not play and went through the entire preseason without seeing any game action, although coach Doug Pederson insists he’s healthy. “I’m not concerned based on what I’m getting from the medical staff and based on Nick’s feeling and the way he worked out again today, and really through this week in practice,” Pederson said. “There’s no concern.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins stood with his right fist raised during the national anthem, and teammate Chris Long put his hand on his shoulder — as did safety Rodney McLeod — as a show of unity for the third straight game. Jenkins has been outspoken against racial injustice and has worked with law enforcement to try to better the situation.
Eagles running backs Donnel Pumphrey, a fourth-round pick, and undrafted rookie Corey Clement saw lots of action while competing for the fourth spot on Philadelphia’s depth chart. Pumphrey had 10 yards on six carries and a 3-yard catch before leaving in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a head injury. He also averaged 26 yards on three kickoff returns and 9 yards on five punt returns. Clement had four carries for 16 yards and caught a pass for minus-2 yards.
Byron Marshall, listed as sixth on the depth chart, led the Eagles with 56 yards on 15 attempts.
Pederson said it’s “not out of the question” that the Eagles could carry five running backs.
Bowles said TE Chris Gragg might have a fractured right ankle after taking a hit after a 26-yard catch with 6:49 left in the first half. He was on crutches with his lower leg heavily wrapped. … Jets LB Corey Lemonier left in the second half with a foot injury. … Eagles DE Alex McCalister, who had a sack, left in the third quarter with a hamstring injury and didn’t return.
Eagles: Season opener at Washington on Sept. 10.
Jets: Season opener at Buffalo on Sept. 10.