PHILADELPHIA – Ezekiel Elliott made the proclamation four days ago.
"We've got to get this run game going – point blank, period," the star running back said.
In a 27-20 road victory the Cowboys (4-5) absolutely had to have Sunday against NFC East rival Philadelphia (4-5), the offense took a major leap forward – literally – led by Elliott's 187 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
It all started with another spectacular open-field hurdle that has become a staple of Elliott's versatile skill set.
Prior to his second-quarter highlight, Elliott looked headed for another difficult road challenge, fighting for every inch. He had carried the ball seven times for only 25 yards on the Cowboys' first four drives.
With 6:18 left in the first half, Elliott found a lane on the left side, broke into the secondary and jumped over 6-foot Eagles safety Tre Sullivan on his way to a 32-yard gain, finally losing his balance eight yards from the end zone.
The Cowboys only got a field goal out of that play to take a 6-0 lead. But Elliott had regained his rhythm after gaining fewer than 100 rushing yards in three of the previous four games.
By the end of the night, he had joined the Giants' Saquon Barkley as only the second running back this season to hit the 100-yard mark against the Eagles: 19 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown. The 151 yards were the fourth-highest total of his career, and the 187 total yards (including 36 receiving yards and a touchdown) were his fifth-best total.
"He played extremely hard, wanted the ball, really took the game in his own hands running over people, catching the ball out of the backfield, making a ton of plays," guard Zack Martin said.
"We know how good he is. The more we get him the ball, the better."
Score and circumstances have been a factor in the run game's inconsistency this season. The Cowboys had only four possessions in the second half of last Monday's loss to Tennessee and Elliott finished with only 17 carries for 61 yards.
Sunday, Elliott had only two more carries than last week. But the Cowboys' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage against Philadelphia's vaunted defensive front. Xavier Su'a-Filo was effective filling in for injured left guard Connor Williams (arthroscopic knee surgery) and Martin finished the game at right guard after re-injuring his sprained left knee in the first half.
"The offensive line came out and dominated – they dominated in the run game," Elliott said. "They gave me space to go out there and do what God gave me the ability to do. The offensive line came out and played their tails off."