Ezekiel Elliott can appreciate the Cowboys clinching a playoff spot in 2022 but, having felt the sting of early exits, he isn't interested in celebrating anything short of a Super Bowl run
FRISCO, TX — Is it better to have loved and lost or to never have loved at all? It's a universal question that has been pondered over the course of civilization but, as the underlying principle applies to NFL football, we all now know where Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott stands.
He wants it all or, truthfully, what's the point of any of it?
Having clinched their second consecutive playoff berth is an achievement, sure, but having it tied to a 40-34 overtime loss serves as a nauseating reminder of what awaits them in January if they're not firing on all cylinders.
"Love making the playoffs, but we're looking to make a run," Elliott said following the team's second practice in preparation to host the 13-1 Eagles on Christmas Eve. "We've made the playoffs before. I want to make a run."
A national championship winner (2014), and runaway star for the Ohio Buckeyes, prior to being named the fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Elliott knows a little something about how amazing it feels to sit atop the sports mountain.
He's hell-bent on doing all he can to help the Cowboys return to the zenith, a spot they haven't ascended to since the 1995 season.
"I mean, you can make the playoffs and, we've seen it, lose in the first round," said the two-time NFL rushing champ, referencing the team's home loss in January to the San Francisco 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend. "That does not taste good. Doesn't feel good. It's almost worse than not going to the playoffs.
"So, we're trying to do what we can to get better as a team this weekend, and then build on that to make sure we're ready to put our best foot forward when the playoffs come."
With only three games remaining in the 2022 regular season, time is running out to fix any and all things that might/do plague the Cowboys this season, issues that have led to unnecessarily narrow victories as well as, on two occasions this season, unexpected collapses in the second half of contests in Green Bay and Jacksonville that have led to overtime losses.
It's a team that could arguably carry the same 13-1 record as the Eagles going into Week 16, allowing for the Week 1 aberration to remain a loss, but has instead lost three additional games due largely to self-inflicted wounds.
In other words, it doesn't feel like the Cowboys are losing to opponents, but rather to themselves.
"Right now, we just gotta focus on this [upcoming] division game," said Elliott. "It's great that we made the playoffs but we still have three weeks left in this regular season. These three weeks are big weeks — getting us ready to go into the postseason where the games move that much faster and the competition is that much more. This week's focus is beating the Eagles."
Do that and they'll still mathematically have a shot at the top seed in the division and conference, even if it is now a long shot. Lose it and watch the Eagles celebrate winning the division crown at AT&T Stadium, and then face that many more questions on their potential (or lack thereof) in the upcoming tournament.
Elliott understands this quite well, and that's why he's staying where his feet are right now until those feet are put in position to try and make a playoff run. In the NFL, dating without ultimately landing The Jewelry is pointless.
So, as Beyoncé once sang so eloquently: put a ring on it.