Zach Ertz’s best performance of the 2017-18 NFL season came on the game’s biggest stage, Super Bowl LII. Ertz’s first Pro Bowl season culminated with an opportunity to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia, and No. 86 turned in yet another clutch performance for the Eagles to help them outlast the New England Patriots in a 41-33 shootout.
Throughout the game, Ertz continually came up big on third and fourth down plays, extending drives and keeping pace with the opposing New England Patriots’ offense. He finished with seven receptions, 67 yards and the game’s final touchdown, but he may not have been in position to put the Eagles in front if not for his grab over the middle on 4th-and-one earlier on that very drive.
The Eagles gambled from inside their own territory and Ertz rewarded the decision with a conversion on that set of downs. After three consecutive Nelson Agholor receptions, Ertz dove across the goal line to put the Eagles on top for good on his touchdown grab.
Ertz’s touchdown will live on in Super Bowl lore, especially considering the lengthy catch-no catch review that ensued before the extra point, but Ertz was clutch for the Eagles all night long, continually finding open space for Nick Foles to throw to for key conversions.
During the playoffs, Ertz expressed his desire to be a reliable third-down weapon for the Eagles offense, and he backed it up in the Super Bowl against the greatest team of the 21st Century in the NFL.
“I want to be the guy in the red zone,” Ertz said. “Third down I want to be the guy that gets the number called. I put a lot of pride in what I do as a receiver in those situations.”
On the Eagles second touchdown drive, Ertz converted a third-and-seven by picking up 19 yards over the middle. Blount scored later that drive via a 21-yard rush.
Later, facing a third-and-one from the New England 40-yard line, Foles found Ertz for yet another conversion, which set up Corey Clement’s touchdown.
On the final scoring drive, Ertz made two drive-saving catches on plays in their own territory, including a fourth-down conversion from their own 45-yard line.
Zach Ertz at start of playoffs: "Red zone, 3rd down, I want to be the guy who gets the number called." In Super Bowl:
3rd&7, PHI38: 19-yd rec., extends TD drive
3rd&1, NE24: 14-yd rec., extends TD drive
3rd&6, PHI29: 7-yd rec., extends TD drive
3rd&7, NE11: 11-yd game-winning TD
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) February 6, 2018
None of those plays will live on in Super Bowl lore, but without them, the Eagles would not have finished on top. Whenever the Eagles needed a conversion, Foles looked for and often connected with Ertz to keep the chains moving and drives rolling.
As time passes, people will cling to the memory of Ertz diving across the goal line to put the Eagles ahead for good, but they shouldn’t forget all the tough catches he made throughout the night to put the team in position to leave as champions.