Ezekiel Elliott wanted to pass along the post-game praise.
The defending two-time NFL rushing champ had just rushed for a season-high 139 yards in Monday’s 37-18 road win over the New York Giants.
He had just reached the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this season, the most of any NFL running back.
He minimized his role in the Cowboys’ rollicking run game, instead directing the bulk of the credit to the five guys blocking for him.
“It was the easiest 140 yards I’ve ever gained,” Elliott said. “I don’t know if I even broke a tackle. I ran inside the scheme. Those guys mauled them up front.”
The Cowboys indeed controlled the line of scrimmage all night. Quarterback Dak Prescott wasn’t sacked. And between Elliott, Prescott and rookie rusher Tony Pollard, the offense racked up 172 yards on the ground.
Elliott himself averaged 6.0 per carry. He picked up 48 yards on the first four possessions, pushing the offense into Giants territory three times. Finishing drives was the issue – the Cowboys settled for a field goal, missed another try from 54 yards and fumbled the ball away.
Eventually, though, those consistent runs created opportunities in the passing game. Prescott accounted for all three touchdowns Monday – a 42-yard pass to Blake Jarwin, a 15-yarder to Michael Gallup and the decisive 45-yarder to Amari Cooper that put Dallas up 12 with under eight minutes to play.
“The way we were running the ball early,” Jarwin said, “really set us up for the pass game late in the game.”
Elliott has always been quick to commend his offensive line throughout his career. The bye week was beneficial to three starters – Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Zack Martin – who were originally questionable to play against the Eagles in Week 7.
And with center Travis Frederick back healthy from last year’s auto-immune illness and guard Connor Williams continuing his development, the line Monday showed its traditional blend of power and athleticism.
“Our offensive line set the tone for the game in the running game,” Prescott said. “Getting on the edges, watching Zack Martin pull all night, just guys being athletic and showing how talented they are. They did that tonight.”
Said Elliott: “I didn’t do anything special today. The O-Line just went out there and made it easy for me. Those guys get all the credit going out there and blocking like that.”
But it’s clear the Pro Bowl rusher is finding his tempo. Absent from training camp and preseason over contract negotiations, Elliott has now topped 100 rushing yards in three straight games for the first time this season.
The 139 yards are the eighth-highest total of his Cowboys career. The club is now 20-4 when he reaches the century mark.
“The run game felt the best it’s felt all season,” Elliott said.
“I think definitely for this offense, this offensive line and me, we’re starting to get rhythm. We’re hitting our stride. And if we’re going to be able to run the ball like that the rest of the season, we’ll be a hard offense to stop.”