After losing to the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles knew they would likely have to win out against three tough opponents to earn a wild card spot. If they can finish 3-0, Zach and his teammates know they have a chance if they get some help.
First, the Eagles flew to Los Angeles to face the Rams who held one of the best records in football. The Eagles handed them their second consecutive loss for the first time this season.
Last week, the Eagles rested up, continued to recover from the injury bug and hosted a red-hot Houston Texans team. Philly emerged victorious beating Houston 32-30 following a game-winning 35-yard field goal by kicker Jake Elliott.
In Week 16, quarterback Nick Foles produced another sensational performance in relief of Carson Wentz. Foles completed 35-of-49 passes for 471 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. Foles averaged 9.76 yards-per-pass and ended the game with a rating of 120.4. The offensive line played one of their best games of the season, allowing the stout Texans defense to get to their QB only once.
“[Foles] played out of his mind, set the franchise-record for passing yards, incredible,” tight end Zach Ertz said about Foles. “He’s just an unbelievable player, unbelievable person, he’s so calm, his demeanor is so calm, and he’s a really good player.”
Aside from Foles’ stellar performance, Zach Ertz had a big game as well, posting 12 catches for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the critical win. As a perk in the win, No. 86 also broke the NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season, surpassing Jason Witten’s previous record.
Ertz has been extremely reliable for the Eagles all season. He has now jumped up to second in the NFL in receptions among all players (113). Only Michael Thomas of the Saints has more (120). Ertz has totaled 1,148 yards on those 113 catches.
Zach will be the first to admit that he isn’t the only one responsible for this record. His two quarterbacks this season, plus a stellar receiving group, have all contributed to a great season for No. 86, but more importantly has kept the team alive for another week in pursuit of the playoffs.
This week was yet another example of a balanced passing attack. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor tallied five receptions for 116 yards and a score on an 83-yard pass from Foles. Alshon Jeffery and Darren Sproles combined for 158 yards and a touchdown as well, and nine players for the Eagles caught a pass in the game.
“The one thing I do know is that I didn’t get here by myself,” Ertz said. “I mean Jason Witten has been a huge part of this, so technically I think a part of him still has the record.”
In 2018, Ertz is seeing the highest numbers of his career in almost every category. With one week to go, he has been targeted 42 more times this season than last (152). In 2016, Ertz had 78 receptions to this year’s 113. He has nearly 300 more yards this season than in 2015 where he finished with 853 yards. With a game to go, he has just as many touchdowns this season as last season with eight. To add on, his receptions-per-game, yards-per-game and catch percentage are all significantly higher as well.
Against the Texans, the Eagles ran the ball 22 times for only 57 yards, but with Foles throwing for 471 yards, the offense was able to outduel Deshaun Watson and the Texans.
Heading into Week 17, the Eagles are the only team in the NFC remaining in the hunt for a wild card spot, and the path to qualify for the postseason is simple. The Eagles need to beat the Washington Redskins first and foremost. Then, they will need some help from the Chicago Bears to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road. But, Philadelphia knows all they can do is focus on their game and getting a win.
“We just need to go there and win,” Ertz said. “We can’t look at it with the Bears win.”