FRISCO, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott stood on the sideline for the final six minutes and change this past Sunday at FedExField, watching Alfred Morris score the deciding touchdown and help run out the clock on the Washington Redskins.
That might be the lasting memory of the rookie running back's second NFL game: replaced in the lineup by Morris after his second fumble in the second half was recovered by right tackle Doug Free in the middle of the offense's winning drive.
The other fumble, two drives earlier in the third quarter, was recovered by Washington and led to a Redskins field goal.
Those mistakes aside, head coach Jason Garrett emphasized that Elliott improved as a runner from his regular-season debut against the Giants a week earlier.
"We have confidence in Zeke," Garrett said. "We thought he played a good ball game yesterday. He made strides from Week 1 to Week 2. He ran the ball hard. He ran the ball tough. He has handled the ball well through his career. He has strong hands. He does a good job with his ball security. He did that at Ohio State. He has done that for us up to this point.
"But that was a big play in the game, though. He made a good run and bounced it out side. Norman came in and punched it out. Those things can't happen. When you're carrying the football, you're not only carrying the football for yourself, you're carrying it for the whole offensive unit and the whole football team. That's a big responsibility that comes with that. He will learn from that experience."
Elliott vowed to make sure he protects the football going forward.
"The ball is the team," he said after the game. "Got to protect it. That's on me."