Zach Ertz just had to laugh. His historic moment … his record-setting catch … and he fumbled.
“I can’t believe I did that,” he said with a big laugh.
Ertz needed 10 catches Sunday to break Jason Witten’s NFL single-season reception record for tight ends, and he got the record breaker on an 11-yard pass from Nick Foles on the first play of the second half.
But before anybody could celebrate, the ball came loose. Dallas Goedert recovered, and no harm was done, but it wasn’t exactly the way Ertz hoped to break Witten’s record.
“The way I’m going to look at it is that every catch I get after that one also breaks the record,” Ertz said jokingly. “So I may have fumbled on that one, but hopefully not on the other ones."
The Eagles rallied for a dramatic 32-30 win over the Texans Sunday, and Ertz, as usual, was in the middle of everything, with 12 catches for 110 yards, including two touchdowns and a 20-yard catch on a 3rd-and-10 on the game-winning drive.
Witten caught 110 passes in 2012. Ertz now has 113 with one game to go.
He also has 1,148 yards and eight touchdowns in what is truly a historic season, one of the greatest ever by any Eagle at any position.
I don’t think I’ve truly come to grips with it yet. One thing I do know is that I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to be here. I’m thankful for everyone that has helped me along the way. The one thing I do know is that I didn’t get here by myself. Jason Witten has been a huge part of this, so technically I think a part of him still has the record. Brent Celek has also been huge for me. There just have been so many people along the way that have helped me that I’m just eternally grateful for. I think it truly takes a village to become a professional athlete — my family, my wife. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way. It is special. Having that record, hopefully it will last a while, but if not, I will be happy for the next guy to do it. But it is special.
It’s funny to think back at all the criticisms Ertz dealt with his first few years.
He didn’t get enough yards after the catch. He was soft. He didn’t get in the end zone enough.
Then he had two of the biggest catches in franchise history in the Super Bowl — a 4th-down conversion on the final drive and the game-winning touchdown — and followed that with an absolutely off-the-charts 2018 season.
If he stays healthy, Ertz will be one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. With one catch Sunday in Washington, he’ll have the most catches ever by a tight end in his first six seasons.
“It’s amazing,” Foles said. “And especially to break the record that was held by somebody that he looked up to as a kid. And now Zach gets to be a person that kids look up to. There are a lot of kids out there — middle school, elementary school, high school football — that are looking up to Zach Ertz and what he does. He’s impacting a lot of people not only by how he plays, but what he says after he breaks records. And that’s the thing that’s most amazing to me. I’m super proud of him. He’s had an amazing career. He’s had an amazing year. And we still have work to do.”
Just to put Ertz’s career in perspective:
If he just catches 80 passes next year, he’ll be among the top 15 tight ends in NFL history at the end of the season.
If he catches 80 passes in each of the next three seasons, he’ll have the fifth-most catches ever by a tight end, and he’ll be 31.
Sunday was a record-setting day for Ertz, and it won’t be his last.
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