Zach Ertz breaks NFL record for season receptions by a tight end

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles tight end Zach Ertz set the NFL record for the most catches in a single season by a tight end in Sunday's 32-30 win over the Houston Texans.

He entered Sunday's game against the Texans with 101 catches, nine behind his idol, Jason Witten, for the top spot, and quarterback Nick Foles targeted Ertz early and often in Sunday's must-win game against Houston.

Ertz racked up nine catches for 56 yards and a touchdown before intermission to tie the record, and broke it with a 9-yard reception on the opening series of the third quarter.

He added another TD in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 catches -- bringing his season tally to an NFL-record 113 -- for 110 yards.

"I don't think I've truly come to grips with it yet," Ertz said when asked about breaking the record. "The one thing I do know is that I'm thankful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to be here. I thankful for everyone that's helped me get here along the way. The one thing I do know is that I didn't get here by myself.

"Jason Witten has been a huge part in this, so technically I think he still has the record. Brent Celek has been huge for me. There's just been so many people along the way who've helped me that I'm eternally grateful for. But like I said, what I do know is that I didn't do this by myself. I think it truly takes a village to become a professional athlete. My family, my wife, and everyone who's helped me along the way. And it is special though to have the record. And it's hopefully something that will last a while. But if not, I'll be happy for the next guy to do it. But it is special."

Witten, now an analyst for ESPN, tweeted his well-wishes to Ertz before the game ended, writing:

Ertz's two touchdown grabs helped the Eagles fight past the Texans in a wild game with plenty of playoff implications. The defending champs kept their postseason hopes alive. They need a win at the Washington Redskins in the regular-season finale and a little help in order to make it into the dance.

Quarterback Nick Foles, in for an injured Carson Wentz (back) for the second straight week, set a new franchise record with 471 passing yards and threw four touchdowns to one interception to lead the charge. He left the game briefly after a vicious hit to the chest from Jadeveon Clowney, but returned to drive the team down the field and set up a game-winning 35-yard Jake Elliott field goal as time expired.

"He's a guy that just wants to continue to just help the team win and dish the ball and put it in our playmakers' hands," said coach Doug Pederson. "Really not getting much credit. Just let the other guys do it."

Foles leaned heavily on Ertz early, targeting him 11 times in the first half as he got the offense off the ground.

"He's having a great year," Witten said of Ertz earlier this month. "We all have points in our career where you just get in the zone. When I watch him on tape, I can tell he's doing things the right way. He's advanced as a route runner, using his stems, leverage, things like that to get open."

That skill set was developed in part by dissecting Witten's game. Ertz closely watched Witten growing up and studied his game even more intensely once he got in the pros.

"He was the guy I was always watching because it seemed like third down, he was always getting his number called and he was always attacking leverage, and so I really just modeled my game after him," Ertz said.

Witten only gave his jersey to an opposing player postgame once in his career, and that was to Ertz.

Ertz, 28, surpassed Brian Westbrook's mark for most receptions in a single season in team history with his 90th earlier this month against Washington.