SEATTLE – The stat line on paper looks good – as good as some of Ezekiel Elliott's best numbers in three NFL seasons.
His comments Sunday night – immediately after Seattle handed the Cowboys a convincing 24-13 defeat Sunday at CenturyLink Field – told a different story.
"That loss is on me," he said.
Elliott finished with 127 rushing yards, the 13th time in his young career he's gained at least 100 yards in a regular-season game. He averaged 7.9 yards on 16 carries, the second-best single-game average of his career.
What stood out most to the third-year back? The plays he didn't finish.
In the second quarter, he dropped a wide-open pass from Dak Prescott that might have converted a third-and-long deep in Dallas' own territory. Instead, the offense punted and Seattle took a 7-0 lead on a 64-yard touchdown drive.
A series later, Elliott appeared to have scored on a 31-yard catch and run from Prescott, but officials flagged him for "illegal touching" – accidentally stepping one foot out of bounds on the right sideline before he caught the ball. Per league rules, a player can't be the first one to touch the ball once he's gone out of bounds and re-established himself as a receiver.
Asked if he knew he was out of bounds first, Elliott said, "I had no idea. That's on me. I've got to have better awareness of the sideline."
Then, trailing 24-6 in the fourth quarter, a struggling Cowboys offense finally ripped off its biggest gain of the day – a 26-yard run by Elliott. Except Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald poked the ball out from behind and Seattle recovered – ruining Dallas' best chance to get back in the game.
"When you've got that ball in your hand, that's the team in your hand," Elliott said. "Me being a leader on the team, me being a better player on this team, I've got to do a better job taking care of the ball. That cost us the game.
"I had a poor performance today. Did well in the run game. But overall I dropped the ball."
Elliott's teammates disagreed that he was the culprit in the Cowboys' loss.
"We play through Zeke and he does way more good for us than bad, ever, even with a fumble or whatever," wide receiver Cole Beasley said. "We still had opportunities to make plays and win this game with those. Everybody else has just got to do their part and we didn't do that."