ARLINGTON, Texas - Tony Pollard ignited the Dallas Cowboys offense on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Bears, to the point there's still vapor hanging in the air at AT&T Stadium hours after the Week 8 contest has concluded.
With Ezekiel Elliott being rested due to a knee sprain ahead of the bye week, the Cowboys tasked Pollard with being the driving force of the team's rushing attack in tandem with backups Malik Davis and Qadree Ollison, but Pollard wasn't simply a part of the show against the Chicago Bears.
He nearly stole the entire thing - from the stage to the curtains and the lighting structure above - en route to hanging 49 points on the Bears defense (42 of which belonged to the offense).
"We had a much needed game on offense - showing that we can go in the red zone and get points, finish with seven instead of getting three," said Pollard following the victory over Chicago. "... It was a big game for us on offense. [We] went out there and put up big points, something that we really haven't been doing this year."
It's the most scored by the Cowboys offense all season, and by a massive margin, along with 442 total yards of offense as Dak Prescott was scathing hot in the first half of the contest to help create early distance on the scoreboard; the likes of which the Bears could never recover from.
Pollard finished the day with 131 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on only 14 carries, racking up a total of 146 yards from scrimmage on the day. It was a career-high TD tally for the former fourth-round pick, and the most (offensively) since rushing for two touchdowns in a 41-33 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14 of the 2020 season.
Those who would use the performance in Week 8 as a means of trying to usher out a two-time NFL rushing champ can tuck those daydreams away, however, because the true power of the Cowboys rushing attack comes from the tandem of Elliott and Pollard - versus simply having one or the other.
It's a sentiment owner and general manager Jerry Jones echoed loudly.
"Well, of course, we go as Zeke goes, and I really mean that," said Jones. "He's that important to this team - as important as he was before the game. I want our fans to feel good about our future because we'll have a healthier Zeke for not using him in this ball game."
That said, it's also true Jones is beaming at what Pollard put on film to help push the Cowboys to 6-2 heading into their Week 9 bye.
"I knew we were gonna be conservative with [Pollard] early, because we wanted him for the end of the game and to be the center point of the run game and even the offense," Jones added. "But he stepped out there and had more carries by the half than I really thought we were gonna give him and some of his big plays - we had so many of those 20-yard and up plays today. … I really think he played to expectations."
Count head coach Mike McCarthy in as celebrating the backfield combo in Dallas.
"We look at Tony as a one and Zeke as a one," said McCarthy. "We're very fortunate to have this duo of backs. We prepare that way and we scheme that way. Tony just took the lead spot and we planned on. The goal was to get him around 20 carries.
"Frankly, if the game would have gone a different direction, he could've gone to 30. The outlook is you prepare to play an opponent each and every week. Tony is a very disciplined runner and he's got the home-run speed. His ability to run inside the tackles but then when he gets on the perimeter he's dangerous because he breaks tackles and he can finish the run.
"I thought Tony Pollard played the way he always does, he just had more opportunities today."
It was the fifth 100-yard rushing game of Pollard's career, an incendiary effort that left the Bears tucking and rolling to try and extinguish.
It was finally quelled by the clock hitting all zeroes, but the Bears still caught the smoke.