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Super Bowl LII: Zach Ertz’s TD catch upheld after lengthy review

Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz catches a touchdown pass

Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz catches a touchdown pass during the second half of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP / Matt York

MINNEAPOLIS — Zach Ertz caught the go-ahead touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII and immediately regretted it.

“You can’t give that guy any time,” the Eagles tight end said of Tom Brady. “Ideally, it would have been zero on the clock at the end of that drive and we kicked a field goal. But I scored, so I guess that’s a good thing.”

It turned out to be pretty good. Ertz’s 11-yard touchdown reception with 2:21 left in the game gave the Eagles a 38-33 lead (the two-point conversion pass failed). The Eagles’ defense, dormant until that point in the game, made the lead stand with a takeaway and a stop on the game-ending Hail Mary attempt.

Ertz actually made the biggest catch of the year for the Eagles even before he topped it with the touchdown. He grabbed a 2-yard pass on fourth-and-1 to keep the go-ahead drive alive.

“The fourth-down play was huge,” Ertz said of the key snap that came with 5:39 left from the Eagles’ 45. “Nick [Foles] did an unbelievable job of kind of escaping in the pocket, and I knew where the sticks were. I caught the ball right at the first-down line, and I was hoping I got it because it was fourth down and we needed that.”

Seven plays later, Ertz scored the touchdown. He caught the ball coming across the field at about the 2-yard line and then dived into the end zone.

“It was definitely a wrinkle,” Ertz said of the touchdown scheme. “Any time I was on the back side early in the game, they were doubling me. That’s kind of how I made a lot of plays for this team, being on the back side. But when we had the running back kind of slip to the flat on the other side, the man playing him had to get out of there. That [left] a one-on-one situation with [Devin] McCourty.”

Ertz’s dive for the end zone resulted in some bated breath as the football touched the turf and popped into the air. It was somewhat similar to a touchdown by Steelers tight end Jesse James against the Patriots in the regular season that was overturned and ruled incomplete for not “surviving the ground.”

On Sunday night, the officials determined that Ertz had completed the catch and was a runner at the time of his lunge. Once the ball broke the plane of the goal line, it was a touchdown and the play ended.

“If they would have overturned that,” Ertz said, “I don’t know what would have happened to the city of Philadelphia.”

Probably something close to what happened when it wasn’t, but with fewer smiles.

New York Sports