PHILADELPHIA -- Rookie tight end Zach Ertz has mostly played a supporting role in his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles, but on Sunday the second-round draft pick from Stanford finally got a chance to take center stage.
Ertz caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Nick Foles and veteran tight end Brent Celek caught one as the Eagles held off the Arizona Cardinals 24-21 on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field to keep pace with Dallas in NFC East.
"We knew coming in that they play a lot of man-to-man against tight ends, so we knew we would have some chances to make plays,'' Ertz said. "It's a great feeling to make a significant contribution in a big game like this.''
It was a big game because the fourth straight victory allowed the Eagles (7-5) to remain tied with the Cowboys for first place in the division, although Dallas holds a tiebreaker since the Cowboys beat the Eagles on Oct. 20. The Eagles and Cowboys play in the regular-season finale on Dec. 29.
The Cardinals (7-5), meanwhile, lost ground in their bid for a wild-card playoff berth as the Eagles intercepted Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer twice, forced him to fumble once and sacked him five times.
"On the road, in a tough environment like this, you can't turn the ball over,'' Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "But we hung in there and we had a chance in the fourth quarter, but we didn't make the plays to win the football game.''
The Cardinals rallied from a 24-14 deficit and had the ball with 2:03 left to play, but turned the ball over on downs and the Eagles were able to run out the clock.
"We have to do a better job on the road, because we played a good Philadelphia team, with a loud crowd,'' said Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who tied the game 7-7 in the second quarter with a 43-yard touchdown reception. "It was a learning experience and I know we'll bounce back, because we still control our own destiny.''
Foles, named the starting quarterback this week by coach Chip Kelly, completed 21 of 34 passes for 237 yards and the three touchdowns and he still hasn't thrown an interception this season, although he did have a pass picked off on a play that was negated when the Cardinals were flagged for holding. Foles finished with a quarterback rating of 112.0, the seventh time this season his rating has been over 100.
"Nick is getting better and better,'' Kelly said. "You're starting to see him grow.''
Foles got some early help from the Eagles defense. End Trent Cole swatted the ball out of Palmer's hand and defensive tackle Bennie Logan recovered on the Arizona 25-yard line. That led to Foles' 6-yard TD pass to Ertz and a 7-0 lead with 12:30 left in the opening period.
The Cardinals tied the score midway through the second quarter on Fitzgerald's touchdown, but the Eagles went back on top on their next possession, on Alex Henery's 32-yard field goal.
The Eagles added another touchdown right before halftime, when Foles found Celek with a 1-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7 at halftime. The Eagles padded that lead on their first possession of the second half, with Foles hitting Ertz down the middle with a 24-yard touchdown pass that made it 24-7 with 10:16 left in the third quarter.
The Cardinals got that score back on their next possession, as Palmer passed to wide receiver Michael Floyd for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 24-14 with 5:14 left in the third period. Then Palmer did it again, this time passing to tight end Jim Dray for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 24-21 with 4:45 left in the game. But then the Cardinals ran out of downs and, eventually, out of time.
NOTES: WR DeSean Jackson went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark in the second quarter to become the third player in Eagles' history with three 1,000-yard seasons, joining Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick. ... Arizona coach Bruce Arians came into the game with seven victories in his first 11 games, the most for a Cardinals coach since Charley Winner won eight of his first 11 in 1966. ... QB NIck Foles' third-quarter touchdown pass to TE Zach Ertz was his 225th straight without an interception, breaking the Eagles' record set by Michael Vick in 2010.