The Dallas Cowboys offense once again imposed its will on an opponent.
Despite a couple of first-half turnovers that squandered scoring chances, the Cowboys’ balanced attack did pretty much as it wanted in Sunday’s 44-20 trouncing of the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys finished with a season-high 515 total yards, including 201 rushing and 314 passing. It’s the first time since 1983 a Cowboys offense has gained 200 or more rushing yards and 300 or more passing yards in a game.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and also caught a 4-yard pass for a score. It’s his second consecutive 100-yard game, which could have been three in a row if not sitting late with 95 yards in a blowout win over the Eagles in Week 3. It’s his first consecutive 100-yard games since he had three straight in 2019.
Elliott again credited his offensive line, and for good reason. Some of the holes he and Tony Pollard had were sizable. Pollard finished with 75 yards rushing on 14 carries and four receptions for 28 yards.
“It all starts up front,” said Elliott, who notched his 47th all-time game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. That ties Michael Irvin for third-most in Cowboys history. “The O-line from the beginning of the game, they established the line of scrimmage. They dominated the line of scrimmage and we got the run game going.”
It’s the second straight week Dallas has gained more than 200 yards on the ground. The Cowboys had 198 in their Week 2 win at the Chargers.
It was Elliott’s 30th career 100-yard game. His touchdown catch was the 11th of his career, which tied him with Emmitt Smith, Preston Pearson and Timmy Newsome for the fourth-most receiving scores by a Cowboys running back.
The game didn’t come without its scares for Elliott. During a second-half dash toward the end zone, he landed on top of the pylon and hurt his lower back and ribs, he said. He missed a few plays but returned quickly.
“That thing is kind of hard,” Elliott said with laugh. “I think it is foaming but it’s hard. The base of it is hard too. It’s definitely not soft. I normally get up, at least get off the field. But right there I had to [lay there] a little bit. It kind of just stabbed me. I lost my wind.”
Elliott was more intrigued with the Cowboys’ offense surpassing 200 yards rushing again; despite, he said, playing nowhere near a great game.
“We didn’t play that well. We had some turnovers early. We turned the ball over in the red zone. That can’t happen at all,” he said. “But we got the job done. But we definitely need to focus on playing a complete game. I said last week, that our next step as a team is playing a complete game and dominating a team from the first to fourth quarter. Yeah, we have some work to do.”
But that just has Elliott and the offense relishing how much better the offense can get.
“I am encouraged our best football is ahead of us,” he said. “Right now we’re not peaking. It’s a long season and we want to make sure we’re peaking at the right time.”
Coach Mike McCarthy was most impressed with the run-game success against the Giants’ run defense even when it was an obvious run situation.
“They came with a pretty heavy run defense emphasis today,” he said. “When you run the ball and you’re in run/pass mode, that’s one way. But when you run the ball and they know you’re going to run it, and you have the success, that’s what we’re looking for.
“I really liked the fact we ran into some tilted defenses and ran it well, ran it physical. I just think it speaks to the confidence of the run blocking unit and as a whole to the running of both Zeke and Tony. We need to continue to go that way.”
Elliott reiterated his contention that he’s completely on board with the increased usage of Pollard.
“I think it’s tough, especially when we’re running the ball the way we can. You’ve got two different backs, two different styles, you don’t know how to necessarily fit the runs,” he said. “I think it’s tough on defenses and keeps both of us fresh. It’s been working out pretty well so we just have to keep that up. I hope we keep this 200-yard rushing streak alive.”