ARLINGTON, Texas – There was no point in hiding from it, and Ezekiel Elliott didn't bother.
In the wake of one of his most forgettable performances – a night that saw him briefly benched in favor of Tony Pollard – Elliott had no problem stating the obvious.
"I want to say I'm sorry and this one is on me and I need to be better for this team," Elliott said.
In the wake of a 38-10 beatdown at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals, it would be a mistake to blame one player for all the Cowboys' woes. At the same time, Elliott's ball security issues put the Cowboys in quite a hole – which has been an unfortunate theme for the season.
This was a game that saw the Dallas defense briefly rise to the occasion, forcing three Arizona punts to open the game. But in the midst of a 0-0 tie, Elliott fumbled on back-to-back possessions – once at midfield and once on his own 26-yard line.
Both turnovers led to Cardinals touchdowns, creating a 14-0 hole that the Cowboys couldn't overcome.
"I'm supposed to be a guy that this team can rely on," Elliott said. "I'm supposed to be a guy that this team can lean on when times get rough. I just wasn't that today."
Indeed, much was made this past week about Elliott's importance in the wake of Dak Prescott's injury. With the team's franchise quarterback sidelined by a fractured ankle, the need was greater than ever for the Cowboys' $90 million back to help see them through.
Instead, Elliott found himself standing on the sideline during the second quarter in favor of his second-year backup – and he admitted he couldn't argue with the decision.
"I'm giving the ball away. I wasn't helping the team," he said. "They did the right thing and gave some of those reps to TP. I can't do that. I have to be a guy this team can lean on, especially in these times right now."
On the bright side, Elliott will have many more opportunities to rectify the situation. The Cowboys sit at 2-4, but – as has been well documented – they still lead the NFC East. The poor quality of this division will keep them playing meaningful football for the foreseeable future.
But this is a trend that the three-time Pro Bowler has got to buck, and he knows it. He fumbled twice in Week 2 against Atlanta and lost one of them, helping dig the Cowboys into a deep hole. He also fumbled against Cleveland, which helped the Browns turn a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 lead.
After Monday night's game, he has lost four fumbles on the season – which is the most by a running back, and ties him with Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr for the most in the entire league.
It's a damning statistic, and it's something that will continue to sink the Cowboys if it isn't addressed. How exactly he'll do that, Elliott couldn't quite say. But he knows it's something he's got to get fixed, and he's got to do it quickly.
"I need to figure it out, man," he said. "I don't want to really keep talking about it, but I've got to figure a way to figure it out."