On a day when the Eagles’ wide receivers had trouble functioning at an NFL level, there was Zach Ertz having a vintage Zach Ertz kind of day.
Ertz was virtually a one-man show in the win over the Bears with season highs of 9 catches and 103 yards with a 25-yard touchdown catch, his longest in five years.
The Eagles’ wideouts combined had 62 yards, catching 8 of 17 targets with four drops.
Ertz was targeted 11 times and caught 9.
Imagine where the Eagles would be without him.
“Obviously, it feels good to win and be a factor,” Ertz said. “I thought I played well in the passing game, I think I left some things to be desired in the run game, just in terms of not being exactly where I was supposed to be, so I take that a little harder. Overall, that’s a really good defense and we found a way to win. It feels good. Going into a bye, you just got to find a way to win. You can’t go into a bye with a loss or you’ll be thinking about it for 10 days or a week until you get back.”
Ertz was coming off consecutive inconsequential performances. He caught two passes against both the Cowboys and Bills, the first time that’s happened since 2016.
But on Sunday, when the Eagles desperately needed him, he came up big. He had four of the Eagles’ five-longest catches, and Dallas Goedert had the other.
When your wide receivers play this bad, your tight ends and running backs better come up huge, and they did.
“I think my connection with Zach is always really solid, really strong,” Carson Wentz said. “Some weeks it just shows up out there more than others.”
It had been a while since Ertz got to enjoy a win from both a personal and a team perspective.
You have to go back to the Jets game a month ago to find a game where he put up good numbers in a win.
His frustration bubbled over a bit after the win in Buffalo last weekend, but it’s understandable when you’re used to catching seven or eight passes a game and the ball just isn't finding you.
“I was frustrated that we were losing games, obviously,” he said. “That was more the frustrating thing. I’ve said it a million times, I don’t care if I get two catches if we win the game. But I take it personally when we lose, especially kind of the way we lost those two games (to the Vikings and Cowboys) in particular, so the frustration is obviously going to come out in some ways. My body language was probably not great in those games, so I was just happy to come out here and be a big factor in the win today. I thought I played well."
Ertz isn’t going to catch 116 passes again, but his 46 receptions are 4th-most in the NFL among tight ends, and if he can average 67 yards the rest of the season he’ll have a second straight 1,000-yard season.
“He definitely was targeted a little bit more in this game and rightfully so,” Doug Pederson said. “When you throw him the ball, he can catch it. … He ran really good routes today. He was tough. He was physical. Made some contested catches and that's who Zach is, and it was good to see.”
Five of Wentz’s first 11 completions went to Ertz. By then, the Eagles were up 12-0 on their way to a 22-14 win.
Nobody else on the team even had 40 receiving yards.
“I feel like I just got my number called early and that kind of carried over,” Ertz said. “Once you get confidence as a pass catcher, that’s huge. I was able to have a couple good ones early and they just kept coming to me.”
The 100-yard game was the 12th of Ertz’s career. That’s 12th-most ever by a tight end.
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In his 100th career game, he increased his career total to 483 receptions, third-most ever by a tight end after 100 games, behind only Kellen Winslow Sr. (497) and Jimmy Graham (485).
Ertz is now 106 catches behind all-time Eagles record holder Harold Carmichael. At his pace over the last five years, he’ll catch Carmichael late next year. Which is remarkable.
He’s one of the best tight ends ever, and Sunday afternoon, when the Eagles needed him the most, he delivered.