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Ertz Helps Silence Seattle Crowd in Cardinals Victory

Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz had a big game in a place where he hadn’t had much success while playing for the Eagles.

It was the perfect setting for tight end Zach Ertz to have his best game as a Cardinal in a critical situation.

Coming off what could have been a dispiriting 34-10 home loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals traveled to Seattle with a 5-0 road record to play a team that Ertz had never beaten during his career with the Eagles.

He'd lost six times, two in Seattle, and the Eagles had scored 74 points in those games.

Last week, Ertz reflected and said, “Me personally, I haven't had a lot of success against these guys. They've been very good for a very long time. The environment is one of the best in the league. It's loud, it's hostile, the players feed off that home crowd. Even in college when I was at Stanford, we played Washington in Seattle at this stadium, and it was rockin’.

“And so it's just something that we got to match their intensity as a team going up there, even though there's going to be 70,000 screaming Seahawks fans, we as a team have to play to the best of our abilities and not let that rattle us, not let that dissuade us from playing our game.”

It wasn’t always pretty, but without several key players, the Cardinals won 23-13 and Ertz was a large part of it. 

He had eight receptions on nine targets for 88 yards and two touchdowns. 

Five of his receptions resulted in first downs, including a key 20-yard play on third-and-7 from the Seattle 39-yard line with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

Four plays later on third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Seahawks safety Jamal Adams interfered with Ertz at the 1-yard line. Running back James Conner scored on the next play to give the Cardinals a 23-13 lead with 2:20 remaining in the game.

Ertz has been with the team since being acquired on Oct. 15 and credited his production to “a culmination of a lot of hard work from guys helping me out. From just trying to get in the playbook as much as possible. To the coaching staff trusting me.”

Ertz usually talks team-first and he did that, saying, “This isn't about me. This is a team sport; this is a team win. And this is a recipe for success for us if we're able to get up early. And let the D-linemen and our defense really attack the passer. We're gonna have a chance to be a really good football team and so for us, that's what it's all about. For me, just trying to find ways to contribute for this team.

“Obviously, my trust and comfort level I feel like has gone up each and every week. And obviously the bye week is going to be big and then hopefully get Kyler (Murray) back. It's going to be a lot of fun. And this was just a fun way to come out here before the bye week. There's no worse feeling than losing before the bye. So finding a way to win was definitely a big goal of ours as a football team. And we did that today.”

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Ertz also made sure to have accolades for quarterback Colt McCoy while mentioning getting Murray back.

“Colt's a great leader, first and foremost,” Ertz said. “He's been in the league a long time. He understands the locker room. He understands what guys want to do. And he's seen all the looks. There's nothing a defense can do that he hasn't seen before whether he was playing, whether he's been studying film. Over his past however many years he's been in the league, he's seen it and so he's always confident. He's always calm. Nothing's gonna rattle him.

“So the past three weeks have been fine just being able to see what he can do. I think everyone knew what a great mentor he'd be for Kyler, but he's a great football player, and people should never take that for granted.”

Ertz has talked about what a special locker room exists with the Cardinals. 

Many players have talked during the season about the number of backups that have stepped up and done well with teammates being happy for them.

“You understand how hard it is to play in this league,” Ertz said. “You understand how much work goes into it each and every week whether you're the starter, the backup, the practice-squad guys. You have to put so much into it physically, mentally, emotionally. So whenever a guy (like Colt) gets an opportunity and makes the most of it, it's just a testament to the work he's put in not just this year, but for the past 13 years he's been in the league or however long he's been.

“I think guys just love to see guys that work their butts off, whether they're a starter, backup or scout-team guy that go to work each and every day with the goal of getting better. They're not about themselves; they're about the team. Everyone love to see guys succeed regardless of where they've been or where they've come from.”

Now, Ertz is looking forward to the bye week and then the final six games of the season in December and January.

He said, “(It’s great) to be 9-2, 4-0 in the division and really be at a good place as a football team. We were obviously banged up. So the bye week is coming at a crucial time for us. And it's not to say that we're complacent by any means and by where we're at, but the more you win, the bigger the games get. 

"I've been in this league a long time and when you're playing meaningful games at the end of November, December, January, that's what it's really about. When you're playing big games and all your goals that you set out at the beginning of the season are still attainable, that's what playing in the NFL is all about.”

He also knows there’s still improvement to be made.

“We're excited about the opportunity obviously, but like I said before, if this is the football team we enter Week 16, Week 17 with, we've ultimately let ourselves down. We got to continue to get better each and every week and that starts on the practice field. That starts with really good game plans with the coaches and that's just going to work every day.”