ARLINGTON, Texas – It’s safe to say Ezekiel Elliott will be happy for a break.
By the time he talked to reporters on Thursday night, Elliott had carried another heavy workload for the Cowboys’ offense – and helped them to another win.
In a surprisingly defensive slugfest, Elliott toted the rock for 76 yards and added another 60 yards and a touchdown through the air. In total, he touched the ball 29 times, bring his tally for the last three weeks to 115.
If anyone on this roster has earned a half-week off, it’s probably him.
“We’re definitely going to appreciate it,” Elliott said. “You know, we’ve had a tough stretch, and we’ve handled it really well. We’ve just got to make sure we take care of our bodies while we’re getting back to work, making sure we’re building on this foundation we’ve laid.”
To say the Cowboys have handled this stretch “really well” is an understatement. Thursday’s 13-10 win against the Saints concluded the Cowboys’ third game in 12 days and their fifth game in the month of November.
“Our guys did a really good job preparing over this last month or so, knowing that we had a lot of football in a short period of time,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
They’ve managed that stretch with a 4-1 record, with all four of those wins coming in a row.
And at the center of it all has been Elliott. During this four-game win streak, the 23-year-old running back has been the lynch pin of the Dallas offense. Since the Nov. 11 win against Philadelphia, he has racked up 667 total yards – 470 on the ground and 197 through the air – to go with four total touchdowns.
None of those came tougher than these ones against the Saints. Against the top-ranked rush defense in football, Elliott had to grind out 75 yards on 23 carries – an average of just 3.3 yards per attempt. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that he was able to rip off his longest run of the evening, for what else but 21 yards.
“The Saints, they are a very tough, physical defense,” he said. “They have a great front, don’t make a lot of mistakes. A lot of my former teammates play on that team. I think we just did a great job of just coming out, executing, chipping away and just doing enough to get the win.”
The Dallas defense was a big part of that, and rightfully so. But in a game decided by a field goal, it was fitting that Elliott’s touchdown – a 16-yard romp on a screen pass – helped provide the final margin.
And while Elliott is sure to enjoy a few days of down time, he was also sure to point out something else: the Cowboys can in fact be better.
“We did great, but I mean, we’ve got to be better than that,” he said. “I think we had an opportunity to step on their throats and really win by a lot more, but we didn’t and we let them hang around, and we’ve just got to do better at finishing these ball games.”