After back-to-back convincing wins against the Packers at Lambeau Field, and the Jets in the friendly confines of The Linc, Zach Ertz, who has recorded at least four catches and 50 receiving yards in every game of 2019, and the Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) fought valiantly, but found themselves on the losing end of a 38-20 contest against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Eagles came into their week six matchup severely hampered by injuries on both sides of the ball. Most notable though, were the absences in the secondary to starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby (hamstring), and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck). Despite the injury woes that have plagued the Eagles all season, Pederson refused to use them as an excuse for today’s loss.
“There’s some injury, but again, I’m not going to use than an excuse. The guys have to play. …We’ve got to be critical of ourselves as coaches, first, and make corrections with players,” Pederson said.
The deep ball proved to be the Vikings’ biggest asset on Sunday. Stefon Diggs had three receiving touchdowns on the day, including one of 51 yards and one of 62 yards.
After a first quarter that saw the Eagles afforded just seven offensive snaps (6 run, 1 pass), they found themselves down 10-0, but they rallied quickly in the second half.
Though he won’t get credit on the stat sheet, Zach’s route running was critical to the Eagles’ most exciting play of the first half – a 32-yard touchdown by Miles Sanders. Ertz’s effort helped open up space for Miles Sanders to catch the first touchdown pass of his young career. The score helped cut the Eagles’ deficit to 14.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 13, 2021
With under a minute left in the first half and the Eagles driving, Ertz recorded his first reception of the game with less than 30 seconds left in the half. It was a 6-yard reception on 1st and 10, deep in Minnesota territory. The catch put the Eagles in field goal range.
A controversial unsuccessful fake field goal attempt sent the game into halftime with a score of Vikings 24, Eagles 10. Though it did not work, Pederson has zero qualms about the play call and would do it again.
“We had the look we wanted. Tried to take advantage of it, get an opportunity to shoot it in the end zone after that. The made a great play. …The play was designed to hit Dallas and get out of bounds. We were on short side of field,” Pederson said.
The Eagles and their star tight end didn’t go down easily, coming out of halftime rejuvenated and ready to fight. They struck quickly on their first drive of the quarter, a nearly two-and-a-half-minute drive that resulted in an Alshon Jeffery 3-yard touchdown. Jeffery had 10 catches on the day and was responsible for one of two Carson Wentz touchdown passes.
On the ensuing Vikings possession, the Philadelphia defense held strong forcing a three-and-out, followed up by a 40-yard Jake Elliot three-pointer. The Eagles had closed the gap to four mid-way through the third, but that was as close as they would get.
Ertz brought the third quarter to a close with his second, and most acrobatic, catch of the day. With Wentz scrambling, Ertz found a way to create space between the defender, ultimately tight-roping the sidelines for the snag.
Half way through the fourth, the Eagles called on No. 86 when the game was on the line. After Wentz and Ertz were unable to connect on one first and third down, Zach moved the chains, picking up 17 on a 4th and 15. Unfortunately, Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr jarred it lose before Ertz’s knee was down causing a fumble.
Ertz finished the day with four catches for 54 yards.
Wentz is sure to look to his reliable tight end early and often next week as The Birds travel to Jerry World to take on the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. No. 86 has had the Cowboys’ number in recent matchups, turning in arguably the two best showings of his career against Dallas. In 2018, Zach had 14 catches on 16 targets for 145 yards and two scores. In 2016, Ertz turned in a 13-reception performance for 139 yards and another two touchdowns.
Kickoff from Dallas is set for 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.