INDIANAPOLIS – He might have been stating the obvious, but Ezekiel Elliott made a statement all the same.
Wrapping up one of the Cowboys' ugliest losses in recent memory, their young Pro Bowler made it clear: that type of performance can't be tolerated.
"We can't go out there and do that," he said. "We cannot. That is not us, at all. It's embarrassing."
It's a good bet that Elliott was speaking the minds of Cowboys fans across the world who watched that game. It was the first time since 2003 that this team has failed to score a point, and it was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance for a typically solid Dallas defense.
"We just came out there and just didn't do our jobs. We got beat in all aspects of the game," Elliott said.
He wouldn't budge on that, either. Asked if injuries such as the absence of Zack Martin or the loss of Xavier Su'a-Filo contributed to the Cowboys' struggles, Elliott wouldn't go there.
"I think, even with the guys we had in there, we have enough talent to go out there and beat that team," he said. "I just think we just came out there and played piss-poor."
Not that it matters to the final outcome, but Elliott was one of the few Cowboys players with a nice outing on the stat sheet. Even in defeat, he added to his strong run of play with 87 rushing yards and another seven catches for 41 receiving yards.
All in all, that'll push his league-leading rushing tally to 1,449, along with a receiving total of 543.
The loss halts a five-game win streak that dates back to Nov. 11, when the Cowboys started this roll with a 27-20 win in Philadelphia. The streak was frenetic, to say the least, with the five wins being decided by an average of 5.4 points per game.
But if the Cowboys suffered some sort of emotional letdown after five frantic wins, Elliott didn't want to hear about that, either.
"I don't know about that, I just know that we can't go out there and put what we did today on film," he said. "That's unacceptable, that's not what this team is. We just need to, like I said, get back to Dallas and figure out what's going on and fix it immediately."
It was another display of leadership from a guy who has let his voice be heard much more often in Year 3. Elliott has gained notoriety this season for leading the team's pre-game huddles, and he hasn't been shy about providing sound bites like that when the occasion calls for it.
Elliott was one of the Cowboys' first players to publicly embrace the mantra of "backs against the wall." He repeated it often, before games and after them, even once the Cowboys had started winning games.
Faced with a setback, it's doubtful his attitude has changed. And if there's a silver lining to a woeful performance on Sunday, perhaps it's another solid point from Elliott: this isn't the first adversity the Cowboys will have to overcome to achieve their goals this season.
"None of you guys thought we'd even have a chance of making the playoffs. We took that on the chin and we went and won five straight, and now our future is in our hands," he said. "We've just got to win one more ball game to make the playoffs. I think it's kind of like that. This team has responded to adversity all season. I don't think we won't respond well to this one."