Follow along with the very latest Cowboys updates as staff writers David Helman, Rob Phillips, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus provide in-depth news and analysis.
Without a Carry, Zeke Claims Another Title
(Dec. 30; 8:30 p.m.) – It's not every day you see someone win a title without doing anything.
But that's basically what happened for Ezekiel Elliott, who claimed his second NFL rushing crown on Sunday, finishing the year with 1,434 yards.
The only real competition came from New York's Saquan Barkley, who needed over 250 yards to surpass Zeke. Obviously, the rookie fell way short although Barkley did rush for 109 yards to finish his spectacular rookie year with 1,198 rushing yards, which was third in the NFL behind both Zeke and Todd Gurley, who also didn't play Sunday for the Rams because of injury. Gurley had 1,251 rushing yards.
But it's another title for Elliott, who also led the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2016. This also marks the third rushing crown for a Cowboys runner in the last five years. DeMarco Murray led all NFL runners with 1,835 yards in 2014, setting the franchise single-season record.
This also marks the seventh time in franchise history the Cowboys have had a leading rusher in the NFL. Emmitt Smith did it four times (1991, 1992, 1993, 1995) before Murray and now Zeke have accomplished the feat here lately.
Breaking Down 'Remarkable' TD From Prescott, Beasley
(Dec. 30; 6:30 p.m.) – Cole Beasley didn't think he'd made the play of the game. The officials didn't either.
Trailing the Giants 35-28 with just over a minute remaining Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Beasley's 32-yard diving touchdown catch in the back of the end zone was initially ruled incomplete.
"I knew I caught it clean but I didn't think I had my feet down," he said. "I didn't know if my knee hit or not. I thought I was out at first."
Replay showed that Beasley had in fact caught the ball in bounds after quarterback Dak Prescott eluded Giants defenders long enough to find him on fourth-and-15.
"Just being able to get away from the pressure, scrambled out, saw the defender's back to me and Beasley was going to work to get open and I just threw it," he said. "Initially I thought he caught it. I think I threw my hands up for the touchdown and then seeing him kind of get up upset like he didn't catch it kind of threw me off. And then obviously the sideline was like 'no we caught it, we caught it.'"
On the two-point conversion try, Prescott scrambled once again and found rookie Michael Gallup to take a 36-35 lead for good.
Prescott finished with a career-high four touchdown passes. With 22 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns this season, he's the first player in NFL history with 20-plus passing scores and five-plus rushing scores in each of his first three seasons.
Head coach Jason Garrett called Prescott's touchdown pass to Beasley "as good a play as I've ever seen him make."
"I thought it was a pretty remarkable play by our quarterback and our receiver," Garrett said."Dak does such a great job moving in the pocket, he does such a great job keeping his eyes up and making those throws on the run. Sometimes people get down — 'Hey, he takes sacks' — but one thing you have to understand when you have a movement quarterback like that, there are a lot of good plays that he makes too."
Vander Esch OK After Scary Moment
(Dec. 30; 6:30 p.m.) – Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered only a leg contusion against the Giants after he got kicked in the shin while trying to make a tackle downfield in the fourth quarter. He stayed down on the field briefly but was able to walk to the sideline on his own.
"I'm fine," he said after the game. "Just a minor bruise."
Defensive captain Sean Lee's return to the lineup helped the Cowboys' numbers at linebacker. Lee was inactive against the Bucs last week but played around 20 defensive snaps against the
Giants, as expected.
Elsewhere on the roster, starting left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo appeared to twist his ankle against the Giants and was replaced by Adam Redmond. The injury isn't believed to be serious, however.
Tyron, Zeke, Martin All Inactive vs. Giants
Ezekiel Elliott, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith won't be in uniform when the Cowboys wrap up their regular season on Sunday.
The Cowboys announced their seven game day inactives prior to kickoff against the New York Giants, and the Pro Bowl trio are among those who won't suit up.
With nothing to gain by winning this game, the decision makes sense. The Cowboys are already set to host a playoff game a week from now, and the opportunity to rest key players was too big to pass up.
The full list of inactives features Mikes White, Elliott , Chris Covington, Zack Martin, Smith, David Irving and Tyrone Crawford.
Strictly speaking, Elliott, Martin and Smith are healthy enough to play -- although the decision to rest them shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Martin has been dealing with a knee injury for most of this season, and it was bad enough to sideline him in the Dec. 16 loss to Indianapolis. Elliott has been dealing with various bumps and bruises, and the decision to rest him makes sense with a wildcard game looming next weekend. Smith has been on and off the injury report this season, and he suffered a stinger back in November.
Again, if the Cowboys stood to gain something by winning this game, it's likely that all three would be able to play. But that isn't the case, so the extra time to rest for the playoffs could be a big boost.
The decision to sit Elliott shouldn't affect his chance to win his second NFL rushing title, though. Elliott currently sits at 1,434 rushing yards for the season. His nearest competitor, Todd Gurley, has already been ruled out of the Rams' game against San Francisco. New York's Saquon Barkley sits in third, but he would need 237 yards against the Cowboys today to surpass Elliott's total.
The rest of the Cowboys' inactives are fairly straightforward. White and Covington have been mainstays on the inactive list this season. Crawford and Irving were ruled out of this game on Friday. Crawford is still recovering from the neck injury he suffered in last week's win against Tampa Bay, while Irving has been missing since October with a high ankle sprain.