After a defensive battle in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, Zach Ertz and the Philly offense began to find a rhythm despite falling 27-21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
No. 86 paced the Eagles offense in receiving with 94 yards on 11 catches on the day. He didn’t find the endzone at Raymond James Stadium, but he made plays throughout the day that helped keep the Eagles ahead of the chains and set up scores.
He kick-started the Eagles first touchdown of the day by picking up 11 yards on the first play of a drive early in the second quarter. After a slow start to the game, the Eagles found themselves down by seven and needing an answer.
On the very next play, Ertz drew a 14-yard pass interference penalty that moved the ball near midfield, which propelled the Eagles to a 13-play, 78-yard drive to knot the game up at 7-7.
As the Eagles approached the redzone, Ertz snagged a pair of passes on first and second down to create a 3rd-and-1 situation for the Philly offense, and Corey Clement picked up the first down.
Six plays later Clement scampered in for a 15-yard touchdown to cap off a drive that lasted over six minutes.
Ertz made his biggest play of the day just before halftime when he reeled in a 34-yard from Foles with less than a minute on the clock, moving the ball inside Tampa Bay territory. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t capitalize, so they trailed 20-7 at halftime.
After falling behind 27-7, the Eagles fought back. Ultimately, they couldn’t overcome the deficit, but they did manage to work themselves back into the game. A Jay Ajayi touchdown form two yards out in the closing seconds of the third quarter gave the team life entering the final 15 minutes.
“I love the fight of all the guys,” Ertz said. “We never thought we were out of it even down 27-7, so we’ll right the ship. We’ve got a lot of veterans on this team, a lot of really good players, and the fight is what stood out to me, and that’s what the message is right now.”
Foles led a touchdown drive that began with a pass interference penalty drawn by Ertz that picked up 10 yards, and the drive included completions to Kamar Aiken, Joshua Perkins, and Ajayi before Foles found Nelson Agholor for a 2-yard score to make it a one score game with 2:46 to play.
Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time left for the Eagles to complete the comeback. The Eagles defense made a stop, and the offense took over from their own 10-yard-line with just 19 seconds remaining.
After a short completion and a spike with four seconds left, the Eagles tried to create some magic with a handful of laterals on the last play of the game, but the Bucs prevailed and walked away with their second impressive win of the young season.
There is still a long way to go in the season, but the Eagles know they have to play better from the start and avoid falling behind early if they are going to win in the NFL.
“There’s no panic, but we have to play better football,” Ertz said. “We had some key penalties, we turned the ball over (two fumbles), and we didn’t sustain drives. It wasn’t good enough.”
Philly will be getting Carson Wentz back next week, which should boost the offense, as he is slated to make his first start since injuring his knee late last season against the Los Angeles Rams.
“He’s looked great,” Ertz said of Wentz. “Same Carson, same guy that was lighting the league on fire last year.”
But Ertz knows that it will take all 11 players on the offensive side of the ball to pick up their games to continue building toward another deep playoff run come January. So, they will learn from this loss and continue improving for their Week 3 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox.