ARLINGTON, Texas – Last January, a deciding factor in the Cowboys' playoff loss at the Los Angeles Coliseum was the Rams' 273 rushing yards – the most ever against a Dallas team in the postseason.
In Sunday's rematch at AT&T Stadium, Ezekiel Elliott and his new backfield teammate returned the favor.
The Cowboys' defense held Rams star running back Todd Gurley to 20 yards on the ground while Elliott and rookie backup Tony Pollard combined for 248 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a dominant 44-21 win that pushed Dallas (7-7) back to .500 with two games to play in the NFC East title race.
"Obviously, a big part of this game was to play the line of scrimmage and control the football and be physical," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said.
The Cowboys hadn't fielded two 100-yard rushers in the same game since Emmitt Smith and Chris Warren 21 years ago. Elliott and Pollard, the team's fourth-round draft pick, have now done that twice this season – a franchise first.
They combined for 228 yards in a Week 3 victory over the Dolphins in September. Sunday, Pollard led all rushers with career-high 131 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the final three minutes.
"He was running real hard," Elliott said. "A couple of his runs, I think he was stopped in the backfield and he broke a bunch of tackles and ran for extra yards. He had a hell of a day."
Said Pollard: "He's been like a big brother since I got here, just taking me under his wing and showing me and teaching me things that I didn't know at first. He's done a great job of that."
For Elliott (117 yards, 2 touchdowns), Sunday marked his first 100-yard rushing performance since the Cowboys' Nov. 4 win at the Giants.
That's a little misleading, however. The two-time NFL rushing champ has been running well. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry during the Cowboys' recent three-game losing streak.
But early deficits have kept the Cowboys from sticking with the run game. Elliott had eight combined carries in the second half of losses to the Bills and Bears.
Sunday, the offense got its balance back.
A great example was the Cowboys' 14-play, 97-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. Elliott, Pollard, wide receiver Tavon Austin and quarterback Dak Prescott had 11 runs for 56 yards, including Elliott's 1-yard score.
The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game, neutralizing the Rams' vaunted defensive front featuring All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald.
"The O-Line, I don't know what they ate for breakfast," Elliott said, "but they did a hell of a job and made it easy on us backs.
"We know what type of men we have in this room. We know how good our offensive line is. We're pros just like them. When we go out there and handle our business, when we go out there and execute, we're hard to stop."