The Eagles gave it everything they had Monday night against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles needed this big-time win, as they found themselves behind both the Redskins and Cowboys in the NFC East standings. If there was going to be any time this season where the Eagles would show their true grit, it would be in these two weeks, in contests against both of those teams.
Before turning their attention to Dallas, Zach and his teammates knew they had to take care of business against another division rival on Monday Night Football. Their focus and preparation showed in a convincing 28-13 win that moved Philadelphia just one game back of the division lead.
The Eagles received Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins’ opening kickoff and scored on their opening possession. Wentz’s found No. 86 early on the first play from scrimmage for 11 yards to pick up the initial first down on the drive. The offense displayed balance on the opening drive, with the assistance of running back Josh Adams, as they marched 75 yards down the field, culminating with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Wentz to Golden Tate.
“Our team is built to play with the lead. Coming out fast, getting seven points early, something we haven’t really done, been successful in most of these games,” Ertz said. “The biggest thing I took out of this game was we finally started fast.”
This drive set the tone for the night, as the Eagles offense looked sharp all game long in this pivotal matchup. Doug Pederson believes this performance could be the catalyst for a postseason run.
“What you’re seeing now is the offense coming together,” Pederson said. “As they say, you should be playing your best football down the stretch and hopefully this is the spark that kind of gets us going.”
The Eagles were in command early until Adrian Peterson busted out a 90-yard touchdown run up the middle ton put the Redskins up 10-7, but their lead didn’t last long.
Just two drives later, the Eagles offense would drive 40 yards in three short plays to reclaim the lead. Wentz completed an 11-yard pass to Corey Clement and then another pass to Tate for a yard. On the Tate pass, an extra 15 yards was tacked on for a roughing the passer call on Washington, placing them on the Washington 14. From there, Darren Sproles scampered in for a 14-yard touchdown. The Eagles took the lead 14-10 on that score and held the lead for the remainder of the first half, going into halftime up 14-13.
In the second half, the Eagles defense played lights out keeping the Redskins scoreless for the remainder of the game.
In the third quarter, the Eagles put together the second half’s first score on a pass from Wentz to Jordan Matthews. Wentz connected with Ertz twice on the 85-yard drive before dumping the 4-yard TD pass to Matthews.
Mark Sanchez had entered the game earlier for Colt McCoy and received some early help from Peterson’s long touchdown carry. Eventually, however, the Eagles’ defense got the better of Sanchez. Nathan Gerry picked off on an interception on the ensuing drive after the Matthews score. Gerry took the ball back eight yards to the Washington 35-yard line to set up a Jake Elliott field goal for a 25-13 lead.
Elliott added another field goal late to give the Eagles the 28-13 win and second place in the NFC East.
Ertz once again led the team in targets (10) and receptions (9), and he finished with 83 yards on Monday.
Zach’s nine receptions on Monday gave him the most receptions in a single season in Eagles history, passing Brian Westbrook (90), who held the record for 11 years.
“Obviously, there have been so many great players in this organization,” Ertz said. “To set the record at home, very special.
It is very likely that Zach Ertz will also break the NFL’s single-season receptions record for a tight end, a mark set by Jason Witten who was in the booth for Zach’s performance on Monday Night Football.
In 2012, Witten set the record after posting 110 catches during that season. Ertz now has 93 catches after Week 13 and is on pace for 122 catches.
No. 86 is also on pace to challenge the single-season receiving yards record by a tight end. One year before Witten set the single-season reception mark for a tight end, in 2011, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recorded the most receiving yards for a tight end with 1,327. This season, Ertz is on track to record 1301 yards, just 26 shy of Gronk’s record.
“I’m not focused on that. That will be something when I’m done, that if I get it, if I’m lucky enough to get it, if things play out that way, great,” Ertz said. “I’m just trying to win football games. At this point in the season, whatever it takes, whether that’s two catches or nine catches like tonight.”
Next, Zach and his teammates will their attention to a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, which could potentially be the deciding factor in determining the NFC East champion. A win for Philadelphia would bring them into a tie for first place with Dallas with just three games to play.
Kickoff in Dallas on Sunday is set for 4:25 ET on Fox.