LANDOVER, Md. – Ezekiel Elliott burst up the middle of the field and into the secondary, taking two tacklers with him for a 15-yard gain in the first quarter at FedExField.
It was Elliott's longest run of the young season to date, and a reminder that the defending NFL rushing champ still sets the tone for this dynamic and balanced Cowboys offense.
By halftime of Sunday's 31-21 road win over the Washington Redskins, Elliott had nearly as much production (11 carries for 48 yards) as his pitch-count total in Week 1 against the New York Giants (13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown).
With another full week of practice, Elliott returned to his normal role as the offense's featured back. He finished with 23 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown and added two catches for nine yards.
After missing all of training camp and preseason due to a contract holdout, Elliott says "slowly but surely I'm getting back in my rhythm and knocking that rust off."
"I felt good about the game, felt good about where I'm at right now and I feel good about everything going forward," he said.
The Cowboys handed Elliott a six-year, $90 million extension just four days before the season opener. He played 37 out of a possible 68 offensive snaps against the Giants. He went well over
that mark, as planned, against Washington.
Fresh for the fourth quarter after rookie Tony Pollard subbed in for a series, Elliott and the offense resumed their identity from the last three years: They got stronger late in the game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott and Elliott led them on a 10-play, 57-yard series that chewed up 5:57 and ended with Elliott's two-yard touchdown run. Elliott carried five times on the drive, picking up a first down and the eventual score.
The Cowboys took a commanding 31-14 lead with a little over five minutes left. Washington got one more touchdown drive, but it was too late for a comeback.
"I just think that's what this team is all about," Elliott said. "That's what this offensive line is all about, that four-minute offense. That's our time to go out there, end the game and step on their throat and get it over with. We did a good job, kept pounding it and grinded out yards and grinded out time."
The recipe has led to two playoff appearances in the last three seasons. As dominant as the passing game has been through two games, the Cowboys will continue to look to Elliott to wear down defenses.
He got back to his normal job description Sunday.
"He made some great runs today, especially at the end of the game just wearing them out," guard Zack Martin said. "We know we can count on him to carry that load, and he showed that today."