The Dallas Cowboys entered Sunday with something to prove. They had just dropped an ugly game to the lowly Packers, blowing a 14-point lead in the 4th Quarter. Meanwhile, in the other corner, we have the Minnesota Vikings who have just come off an overtime thriller against the Bills.
Sitting at 8-1 the Vikings would be a statement win no matter the margin of victory. What nobody seemed to expect was a 37-point bludgeoning. The defense really stepped it up Sunday only allowing three points but the story of the game was the effectiveness of the Dallas Cowboys running backs..
The Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl aspirations lay upon their running backs.
It’s truly magical what can happen when Ezekiel Elliot is healthy. Every aspect of the of the offense opens up and it gives teams much more to worry about. This isn’t to take from Dak Prescott’s performance he was excellent today. He had himself a crisp 139.0 passer rating, 276 yards, 2 TDs, and a filthy 19.5 EPA on only 28 drop backs.
The difference between Sunday’s game and Week 10 against the Packers is truly night and day. Dak had less yards, more INTS, and a much worse QBR (78.6). Pollard is effective, clearly:
And according to the Cowboys PR team, Tony Pollard is the fourth player since 1990 with at least 75 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards, and two touchdown receptions in a single game. The other three: Joey Galloway, Todd Gurley, and LaDanian Tomlinson. But is it any coincidence that this historical performance from the Dallas Cowboys offense had their RB1 and RB1.1 healthy? I think not.
In the four games that both Pollard and Zeke have had double-digit touches, the Dallas Cowboys have 100+ rushing yards and have won 3/4 of those games. As I have said previously, Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ key to success in 2022.
Of the aforementioned four games, only two have been with Prescott at the helm and each of those games have been won handedly with a 24-6 victory over the Lions and now a 40-3 win over the Vikings.
Elliott’s effectiveness lies in short yardage situations. On countless 3rd and short situations, even if the Vikings defense was expecting the run, Zeke would come in and give that small push of two to three yards to keep the drive going. That is Pollard’s weakness, if you remember, before the first score of the game, the Dallas Cowboys were goal-to-go twice and failed twice with Pollard. Elliott comes in on 3rd & Goal and punches it in.
Meanwhile, Pollard is valuable in almost all other scenarios and at the top of the league in passing scenarios. When defenses need to game plan for the elusiveness of Pollard and a bulldozer in Elliott, the offense simply opens up.
I would equate these two as the yin and yang of the Cowboys offense. Perfectly balanced as all things should be. It appears Kellen Moore is learning how to maximize this offense and it starts on the ground and I love the Dallas Cowboys’ chances in the playoffs with these two at 100%.