Zach Ertz's upheld touchdown caps big night for Eagles' tight ends in Super Bowl LII
MINNEAPOLIS — Zach Ertz had no doubt he'd scored the touchdown that would put the Philadelphia Eagles ahead for good in Super Bowl LII.
Almost no doubt.
His team down one point in a contest that had devolved into a track meet with 2:25 remaining, Ertz ran a slant on third-and-7 from the Patriots 11-yard line. Nick Foles hit him in stride, and Ertz then ran several steps and dove — breaking the plane of the goal line in mid-air ... before the ball hit the ground and popped into the air before settling back into his hands.
In a season when the NFL's definition of a catch seemed as confusing as ever, no official review loomed larger.
"I didn't even think there was anything to review. I'm surprised that they were reviewing it. I mean I knew that you kind of had to after every touchdown, but I didn't know (if) there was a reason behind it," said Ertz. "It seemed like an eternity over there. I mean, if they overturned that, I (wouldn't) even know what's a catch anymore. I had three steps in the ground, I extended for it.
"The city of Philly would've been hot if they'd overturned that."
But the league's final review determined that Ertz had transitioned from receiver to runner. Once the ball crossed the goal line, he didn't need to worry about surviving the ground. And he didn't need to worry if Philadelphia would survive the night as the Eagles took a 38-33 lead they'd never relinquish.
"I was telling the ref he had three feet down, so that's a catch," said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. "The ref wasn't telling me either way. I was like, 'C'mon, ref.' He was like, 'I don't know, I don't know.' But I thought it was a catch for sure."
It was. And it was the capstone of a big night for the Philly tight ends.
Seven plays before his decisive score, Ertz extended the drive with a 2-yard catch on fourth-and-1 from the Eagles' 45-yard line.
"The fourth-down play was huge," said Ertz, who finished with seven catches for 67 yards. "Nick did an unbelievable job in the pocket. I kinda knew exactly where the sticks were.
“I was hoping I got it, because it was fourth down and we needed it. (Coach) Doug (Pederson) called a heckuva game. To go for it in that situation puts a lot of faith in us as players."
Pederson also successfully rolled the dice on fourth down with 38 seconds left in the first half. Rather than attempt a chip-shot field goal that would've put the Eagles ahead 18-12, he went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Running back Corey Clement took a direct snap, then pitched it to tight end Trey Burton, who was recruited to the University of Florida as a quarterback. Burton swung toward the right hash then flipped the ball into the end zone, where Foles was waiting unguarded for his first career reception.
"Trey's a quarterback! Trey threw a nice touchdown," said Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor. "And Nick's an awesome ultimate Frisbee player, so you know he's got great hands."
Celek: "We've been running that play a lot in practice, and it looked its sweetest tonight when Trey did that."
It also capped a sweet night for Celek, an 11-year vet who's the longest-tenured Eagles player. He beamed like a proud big brother when talking about his fellow tight ends.
"Ertz is the man, dude. I'm so happy for him," said Celek. "I'm so honored to be in the same tight end room with him — him and Trey."