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Even For This Team, Run Game Is On A Rare Roll


ARLINGTON, Texas – Even by the Cowboys' lofty standards, this is getting a little silly.

This is an organization that has been marked by a great running game for the better part of a decade. Whether it's been DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard, it's become a common occurrence to see the Cowboys square up behind an offensive line full of Pro Bowlers and maul the opposition.

Even by those lofty standards, this past month has been impressive.

Sunday was the continuation of the trend. Some of the names up front have changed, but the Cowboys lined up and bulldozed their way to 201 rushing yards in their 44-20 win against the New York Giants.

"Correct me if wrong, this is our third week of running for 200 again," said Ezekiel Elliott. "So, I think the O-Line came out there and dominated and everything fell apart after that."

Not to be a downer, but Elliott is wrong. Week 5 was only the second-straight game with 200 rushing yards. He was oh-so-slightly off, as the Cowboys pounded their way to a measly 160 rushing yards against Philadelphia in Week 3. Before that, they just missed the mark with 198 in Los Angeles.

Clearly, this is a quibble. Opponents are daring the Cowboys to be patient enough to pound the rock, and they are more than willing to oblige – which is a credit to their offensive line, but plenty of other role players.

"When you put on the tape, it's not just the offensive line," said Zack Martin. "The backs are running crazy hard. The receivers are digging safeties and DBs out. It's just a collective effort that really makes it go."

It's going, to put it lightly. This week was another episode of the Elliott show, as he crossed the 100-yard milestone for the second-straight week and scored his fifth touchdown in the last four games.

Don't get it twisted, though. Right behind Elliott's 21 carries on the night was Pollard's 14, which he ripped off to the tune of 75 yards.

Pollard averaged 5.5 yards per carry, which is good by any objective measure. And yet, ironically, that number dinged his season average of 6.8 – which just goes to show how well this whole thing has been working to this point.

"It's not easy, but it's preparation," said Pollard. "A lot of preparation goes into it – hard work in the offseason, leading up to this time. This is what shows up, what we did when people weren't looking."

It's safe to say people are looking now, and it's going to be interesting to see how this offense morphs as the season goes along.

Given the play of Dak Prescott, not to mention the other offensive weapons on this team, the opposition continues to choose to give up the ground game to protect the pass.

That's all well and good – maybe even smart. But at some point, something has to give. The Cowboys had 77 rushing yards when the first quarter ended last week against Carolina. On Sunday against the Giants, they had 104 after the first quarter.

"It makes my job a lot easier," Prescott said.

That's stating the obvious, but the importance can't be undersold. As fun as it is to marvel at the passing game, it's hard to beat a team that completely calls the shots on the ground.

The Cowboys' run game is throwing the gauntlet down. At this point, it's fair to wonder if there's anyone who can do anything about it.

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