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Christmas comes early for Zach Ertz as Eagles' first 100-yard receiver | Marcus Hayes

Thanks to a late reinsertion, tight end Zach Ertz logged 10 catches for 103 yards, both team highs for the season, as the Birds won their ninth game in a row and moved to 10-1.

Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz catches a touchdown in the first quarter against the Bears.
Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz catches a touchdown in the first quarter against the Bears.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

'Tis the season, and whatnot, and the Eagles were in a giving mood.

It was the middle of the fourth quarter. The Eagles led the Bears, 31-3, which was the final score in their ninth straight win that left them at 10-1, the best record in the NFL. The time was ripe to chase numbers.

Zach Ertz had nine catches for 98 yards, tantalizingly close to triple digits. Not only had he not had a 100-yard game this season, nobody on the team had one, either. Starting quarterback Carson Wentz was done for the day. It seemed as if Ertz was, too.

Not quite.

"He was two yards short. On the sideline, we wanted him to get it, for sure," said fellow tight end Brent Celek. "He deserves it. He should have had three or four more this year."

Ertz came closest at Kansas City, with 97. He had 93 and 89 in the two wins over Washington and had 81 when the Birds beat the Chargers. So, on Sunday, the Eagles were going to do everything they could to get him to 100.

"When I was at 9-for-98, they were telling me, 'You just need one more catch,' " Ertz said.

So, when third-and-3 rolled around, they actually called timeout and made him option No. 1. He beat Prince Amukamara for 5 yards. That was that.

Merry Christmas.

"There was no way I wasn't going to get that ball," said Ertz. He was showered with congratulations on the sideline. "It shows how much we truly care about one another. Everyone's happy for the other man's success."

Everyone's happy Ertz is back to his old self.

He missed Game 9 with a strained hamstring. He was not fully recovered last week at Dallas, where he managed just two catches for 8 yards.

"I didn't have a huge game last week," Ertz said, "but I felt like the body was back together going into this game."

True, the hamstring was fine, but he wasn't quite 100 percent Sunday. He sounded as if he were gargling razor blades when he spoke.

"Yeah, there's something going around, here," he croaked.

He wasn't too sick to have his best game of the season — the 10 catches were the most by an Eagles receiver this season, too — but the best players can produce even when they're compromised, and Ertz is the best tight end in the NFC. This matters in the context of honors. Entering the game, he led the conference's tight ends in receiving yards, with 536, was fourth in receptions, with 45, and was second in touchdowns, with six, and he now has seven.

His 17-yard slant twisted Sam Acho into the ground and gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6 minutes, 9 seconds to play in the first quarter. It was a Pro Bowl play.

"It'd be great to get voted. I haven't had that honor yet," Ertz said.

It seems inevitable. Since being drafted in the second round in 2013, he has been more productive than all but the most elite tight ends. In the past two seasons, fed by Wentz, Ertz entered the orbits of Jimmy Graham, Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen. Ertz led all tight ends in Pro Bowl fan voting as of last week, and he knows it. He also knows the game will be played Jan, 28, the off week between the conference championship games at Super Bowl LII.

"I don't want to play in the game. I don't want to have the opportunity to physically go play," Ertz said. "I want to be playing in the Super Bowl."

To that end, a 10-1 record means more than 10-for-103.

"The winning is important," Ertz said. "It's a testament to Carson that we don't have a 100-yard receiver this late in the season. He's spreading the ball around, not focusing on one guy, but finding the open guy. It's tough for a defense when any guy could go for 100 each and every week, between Alshon, myself, Nelson. Torrey could have a few big [catches] and get over 100 easily."

That's, um, optimistic.

Alshon Jeffery hasn't had a 100-yard game since the 2016 opener, 23 games ago. Torrey Smith hasn't had a 100-yard game since early 2015, a span of 37 games, and that's his only one since early 2013, a span of 66 games. Nelson Agholor has not had a 100-yard game in his three-year, 39-game career.

For the moment, it seems as if Ertz is it. Nobody seems to have a problem with that; least of all, the coach.

"It goes to show you how unselfish this team is," said Doug Pederson. Of course, Pederson has the highest-scoring offense in the NFL. "I'm OK with having just one guy."

Then again, Pederson doesn't mind that he finally has a 100-yard guy. After all, as the play-caller, he orchestrated it … right?

"We kind of knew, a little bit, in the second half, he was getting close," Pederson hemmed, then hawed: "It just so happened that he was able to catch that last pass."

Wink, wink.

It also just so happened Ertz was dressed to be gifted. As an accessory to his beige suit and brown shoes, he wore festive hosiery: white Christmas socks with what appeared to be candy-cane designs, laid out by his new bride, Julie Johnston Ertz, midfielder on the U.S. women's national soccer team and, on game days, valet to 100-yard tight ends.

'Tis the season, after all.