ARLINGTON, Texas – The first time the Ezekiel Elliott saw real daylight Sunday inside AT&T Stadium – a third-quarter run between right guard Zack Martin and right tackle Doug Free – he scored his first NFL touchdown with a dive over the goal line.
Still, the Cowboys' first-round pick expected more from himself than his final stat line in a 20-19 loss to the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium: 20 carries for 51 yards and the 8-yard touchdown.
"I think I was average. I was not brought here to be average," he said. "We've got a lot of work to get done, got a lot to work on. But it's the NFL. You can't win every game. We've just got to get back to work and get better next week."
Elliott and Dak Prescott became the Cowboys' first rookie running back/quarterback combo to start Week 1 since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill in 1969. It was Elliott's first extensive playing time since his decorated college career at Ohio State. He played only 14 snaps in his lone preseason appearance; he missed the first two games due to a sore hamstring and watched the preseason finale with the rest of the Cowboys' starters.
As he did against the Seahawks on Aug. 25, Elliott ran tough. He didn't have much running room for much of the game, though, and a loaded line of scrimmage appeared part of the Giants' game plan.
[embeddedad0]"We knew that was going to be the case today throughout the game. A lot of people around the line of scrimmage," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought he did a good job just hammering up in there. The touchdown run, he really demonstrated good vision and a nose for the end zone on that."
Veteran running back Alfred Morris pitched in seven carries for 35 yards, but Elliott, as expected, was the featured back.
"I was hoping for a better day, for sure," he said. "The type of guy I am, the type of competitor I am, I'm a little disappointed. But you've got to start somewhere and all we can do is get better from here.
"We didn't play terrible today. We had a lot of chances today; we didn't score in the red zone. We've just got to get better."
A look at some of our favorite photos from the 2016 season opener against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, September 11.