The second NFL season for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz was a charmed one, and as he prepares to take the next step as a third year pro in 2015, we’re counting down his five best games from the 2014 campaign.
Coming in at No. 4 is a pair of diamonds in the rough: Zach came through with two outstanding plays to fuel Philly’s only two scoring drives in an otherwise lackluster loss.
Hidden in an otherwise rough Week 14 defeat for the Philadelphia Eagles at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks was one spectacular play from Eagles budding star tight end, Zach Ertz that briefly sparked Philadelphia.
After the Eagles jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, the Seahawks scored 17 unanswered points to take control of the game. But early in the third quarter, No. 86 stepped in to stop the bleeding and provide a spark for his team. On the fourth play of Philadelphia’s second drive of the second half, Zach snared a pass down the sideline from quarterback Mark Sanchez and carried Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright into the end zone for a touchdown that pulled the Eagles to within three, 17-14.
Unfortunately that touchdown, which Zach scored less than three minutes into the second half, was the last score the Philly offense could muster in the 24-14 defeat. It was the first and only time all season that the Eagles scored less than 20 points in a game and came on the heels of back-to-back Philly wins by an average margin of 21 points. Afterward No. 86 gave credit to the Seahawks defense, which again finished the season as the league’s top-ranked unit, for holding the Philadelphia offense at bay.
“Nothing was consistently bad. We were just never able to establish the running game,” Zach said. “Hats off to them, they were better than us and eliminated some things. They were better than us today.”
Though the Eagles struggled to keep up with the Seahawks, No. 86 did manage to play a major role in all 14 points scored by Philadelphia.
His first impact came on special teams midway through the first quarter after the Eagles forced a quick three-and-out on the second Seahawks drive of the game. Punter Jon Ryan stepped back to punt from just outside his own 20, but he fumbled the snap, setting up a frantic chase for the loose ball. Ryan initially recovered it but then had it batted out his hands.
Zach finally scooped it up and attempted to return it for a score, but was brought down at the Seattle 14-yard line. Still the big recovery put the Philadelphia offense in business.
Six plays after Zach’s crucial scoop, Sanchez found receiver Jeremy Maclin for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead 7-0. Seattle came back and scored the final 10 points of the half to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room. Then, on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy fumbled, giving the Seahawks the ball in the red zone. Two plays later the Seahawks capitalized with a touchdown to extend their lead to 10, 17-7.
On the ensuing drive, Zach provided what was really the only big play for the Philly offense on the day, when he hauled in a 35-yard reception and pulled the cover man Wright several yards before crossing the goal line just in front of Seattle’s All-Pro safety tandem of Earl Thomas III and Kam Chancellor. The touchdown catch was Zach’s third of the 2015 season and seventh of his career.
However, the Eagles managed just two first downs for the rest of the game after Zach’s big catch. As a unit the Philadelphia offense was totally limited by the vaunted Seattle defense and tallied just 139 total yards, the fewest for the franchise in two seasons under head coach Chip Kelly.
“We tried to establish the run,” the coach said afterward. “Thought we could do a better job up front. Obviously, we didn’t get that started the way we wanted to get it started and they did a good job. We had a couple shots there. We got them with Ertz on one play, but besides that, there wasn’t a lot to write home about offensively today.”