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Zach Ertz 'Jubilant' to be in Arizona

Recently acquired tight end Zach Ertz had the longest touchdown of his career in his Cardinals debut and helped Arizona defeat Houston, 31-5.

To say the least, the last 10 days have been unlike anything Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz has experienced in his NFL career.

Consider:

  • He played his final game with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Oct. 14 knowing he would be traded to the Arizona Cardinals the next day. He scored a final touchdown.
  • The following day, after an emotional farewell press conference in Philadelphia, he flew on owner Michael Bidwill’s private plane to Arizona so he could travel with the team to Cleveland for their game against the Browns.
  • Of course, he wasn’t able to meet head coach Kliff Kingsbury in person because he had tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On the second play of the game against the Houston Texans, he caught an 11-yard pass for a first down.
  • On a 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, he rushed for four yards on a sweep from the 5-yard line. That set up quarterback Kyler Murray’s 1-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins which gave the Cardinals a 7-5 lead on the way to a 31-5 victory.
  • The big play came in the third quarter on a 47-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that stretched the lead to 24-5. It was the longest scoring play of Ertz's NFL career.

What followed was a poorly executed chest bump with running back James Conner, plus numerous players came over to celebrate with him near the end zone.

“It was kind of surreal to see kind of the whole sideline come on the field for my first score," Ertz said postgame. "James Connor and I had a not great chest bump. I think I hit him a little too hard. I was running a little too fast for him. He just kind of laid there so he didn't take any hits.

“But it was awesome to see the defensive guys come up and celebrate with me. I think it just speaks to the culture of this team. I mean everyone wants to win so badly, everyone's happy for another man’s success. And the best teams I've been a part of, that's the culture that it is.”

Hopkins said Ertz brings “a lot” to the offense. 

“We got Zach involved early," Hopkins said. "You see his down-the-field, middle-of-the field presence. I feel like those are things that he brings to this team. Maxx (Williams) and those guys are good, but Zach is a Pro Bowl tight and so to be able to have that presence in the middle of the field, he helps out a lot.”

“He was great,” quarterback Kyler Murray added. “He had a quick week, but he learned quick. I think we helped him out a lot as far as signals and all that stuff, know where to be. He did well today.”

Ertz crammed his playbook during the week and then met Kingsbury Sunday morning when the head coach cleared COVID protocols with two negative tests.

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“We met today for the first time in person, so that was good," Ertz said. "Pregame, which was really weird the first time I saw him in person. Obviously, we've been talking on the phone texting. But it was good. Dudes love playing for him. He's a brilliant, offensive mind. 

“Obviously, a big win, it's a reflection of the culture that he be out for 10 days and ship I felt like just kept on rolling. Obviously, it doesn't discredit what he does, but I think it's about the team, and the foundation that he set is a reflection of him.”

Kingsbury added, “He's a Stanford grad, so we knew he could handle the load mentally. I didn't get to be there this week, but just listening to the guys talk about his professionalism, attention to detail and he was dialed in from the first day he was out there. 

"That is another weapon to work the middle of the field; big target, he had a nice day today. He's a tough matchup for linebackers and when you got some of the guys we got outside it definitely helps.”

Ertz could not stop talking about how happy he is to be with the Cardinals and was impressed with the crowd. 

He called State Farm Stadium a great place to play.

“I've always loved coming here as a visiting player," Ertz said. "You play indoors on perfect grass. And being on the home team with the fans on our side was a lot more fun than being a visiting player in this building. 

"This might be my first win in this building. Never won here as a player, so it's finally good to get a win in this stadium. (He was correct; the Eagles were 0-2 at State Farm Stadium with Ertz on the team, including the 2020 season).

“Obviously, the fans were awesome. It was loud, especially on third down when the defense was up. I would just say I’m jubilant right now to be here.”