ARLINGTON, Texas – Ezekiel Elliott said during the week that the extra rest helped.
It showed Sunday.
Back from a calf injury that sidelined him a week ago against San Francisco, Elliott topped 100 rushing yards for the second time this season in the Cowboys' 37-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium.
Elliott has been dealing with the calf issue for the past four games. He suffered a contusion Dec. 8 against Baltimore and was able to play five days later against the Bengals. But the Cowboys kept him inactive last Sunday against San Francisco after he felt some tightness leading up to the game. It was his first game missed due to injury in his NFL career.
Elliott on Sunday averaged a season-high 5.5 yards a carry, rushing 19 times for a season-high 105 yards, including a season-high 31-yard gain in the fourth quarter to help the Cowboys seal a third straight victory.
"Zeke's healthy. That's the big thing and that's where we've been trying to get him to," wide receiver Michael Gallup said. "He's healthy, he said it on the sideline. He feels better. He could care less about his 100-yard game, he was just happy that he was healthy and able to compete again."
Elliott gained 67 of his 105 yards in the fourth quarter with the offense draining time off the clock. Wearing down defenses late has been a staple of Elliott's pro career, but those opportunities have been scarcer this season because the offense has faced more second-half deficits.
"We knew it was going to be tough sledding at first, but we had to grind them out and we knew the big ones were going to come towards the end of the game," he said.
With Sunday's win, the Cowboys (6-9) are on the doorstop of an NFC East title – with a little help. They must beat the New York Giants next Sunday and hope the Eagles can knock off first-place Washington (6-9), who has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas.
Through a challenging season, including the recent calf injury and a dip in his normal statistical production (937 rushing yards through 15 games), Elliott has never lost sight of team goals.
"We are a team of competitors," Elliott said. "All we have to do is, we've got to win next weekend and we need a little help from the guys we just played. But I like how this team is playing football right now. Coach (Mike) McCarthy said his plan was for us to trend up through the season. And right now, I think we're catching fire at the right time."