ARLINGTON, Texas – It wasn't easy for Ezekiel Elliott to take a week off, even with the bigger picture in mind.
"He told me following the game (against the Giants) last week, 'Bro, it's not fun sitting there on the sideline,'" quarterback Dak Prescott said.
The Cowboys wanted their All-Pro running back fresh for Saturday's wild-card game – and they needed him all 60 minutes to grind out a 24-22 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Elliott's 26 carries for 137 yards tied his second-largest total from the regular season, and he added four catches for 32 yards.
His 1-yard touchdown run put the Cowboys ahead 17-14 with 12:28 remaining. Later in the fourth quarter he gained 32 yards on a game-sealing 63-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Prescott 1-yard run to make the score 24-14 with just over two minutes left.
"He was something else," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He made some big plays in the ballgame, some big runs. But he made a lot of dirty runs throughout the ballgame that showed up at the end of the game for us. He's a big-time football player."
Seattle didn't make it easy on the NFL's second-team All-Pro and 2018 rushing champ.
Elliott's first 12 carries in the first half went for only 47 yards. Then, with the Cowboys trailing 6-3 with 1:11 left in the half, he bounced outside for a 44-yard gain up the right sideline that set up Prescott's touchdown pass to Michael Gallup four plays later.
"We made a mistake," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters after the game. "We made a mistake on the support and the ball bounced (outside)."
Elliott saved his most important run for the fourth quarter.
With three and a half minutes remaining and the Cowboys ahead 17-14, he once again cut to the right edge and stiff-armed Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin to the ground, racing up the right sideline for a 17-yard gain.
Seattle started burning its timeouts, and the Cowboys found the end zone again four plays later.
"They knew what we were running," Elliott said. "I knew the bounce was there. I just had to be able to get that stiff-arm up and make sure I stayed in bounds. I was patient, let the blocks develop, let them get up to the linebackers and then it's me one-on-one with the corners.
"It's a match I like and the O-Line did a great job of blocking it up."
Elliott led the league in rushing (1,434 yards) for the second time in three years despite multiple changes to the offensive line. Saturday, rookie Connor Williams was back in the starting lineup at left guard for injured veteran Xavier Su'a-Filo (ankle).
The Cowboys have played through adversity all season, most notably a 3-5 start in early November. Now they've won eight of their last nine with Elliott the focal point on offense, as usual.
The divisional round awaits against either the Saints or Rams.
"We're just getting started," Elliott said. "We're ready for whatever they put in front of us."