Ezekiel Elliott ran like a man possessed in Sunday night’s blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles. After the cakewalk, he spoke like one, too.
Nearly every Cowboys player was asked about Eagles coach Doug Pederson now-infamously guaranteeing a victory over their NFC East rival. But no one was as blunt as Dallas’ franchise running back.
“We don’t need inspiration from him to go out there and play hard,” Elliott said, per The Athletic. “This rivalry is enough. Honestly, we don’t give a f*ck what Doug Pederson says.”
Pederson’s vow backfired in epic fashion. All it did was give a reeling Cowboys squad, which had been on a three-game losing streak, the necessary bulletin-board material to stomp their hated foe on national television. And stomp they did, cruising to a 37-10 laugher and staking sole possession of first place in the division.
Not to mention, the last word.
“It’s over. I feel like he got a statement today. So we going to let them go sleep on it,” Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said Sunday night, via SB Nation’s RJ Ochoa.
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No Concession from Dougie P.
To his credit, Pederson, badly outdone by Jason Garrett on a primetime stage, stuck by his Week 7 proclamation despite dubbing this game a top-two defeat in his head-coaching career.
“I just felt like we had a lot of confidence in the football team, a lot of trust, a lot of faith in the guys,” he said, per Pro Football Talk. “We had a good week of preparation. Quite honestly, after a game like this, we all have to kind of step back and look in the mirror, especially myself. It starts with me. This is one of those games that I take personal from that standpoint. We didn’t play well. That’s personal on me so I’ve got to get that fixed.”
Hammering home Pederson’s point, the Cowboys dominated each side of the ball and every statistical category, including total yards (402-283), first downs (23-16), yards per play (6.1-5.0), and time of possession (32:22-27:38). Dallas also forced four turnovers, two of which they converted to touchdowns on a night they never trailed.
“Nope. No,” Pederson said when asked if he regrets his tough talk.
Breaking Down Zeke’s Performance
Yes, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott busted out of a three-week slump by better protecting the ball, absorbing fewer hits, making plays through the air and via the ground. But it was Elliott who had arguably his finest outing of the season, totaling 111 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and adding six catches for 36 yards.
This was Zeke’s fourth 100-plus-yard game in seven tries, highlighted by a first-quarter head-of-steam in which he bulldozed Eagles Pro Bowl defensive back Malcolm Jenkins — a run that he claims set the tone for the rest of the evening.
“I like to look at the defense like a shield,” Elliott explained, per The Athletic. “In the first quarter you hit them a couple times you’re gonna dent the shield, you’re gonna make it splinter a little bit. If you keep hitting it, little pieces are gonna break off and eventually it’s gonna break.”
Elliott surpassed 6,000 career scrimmage yards against Philly. It took him just 47 games, tying him with Eric Dickerson and Le’Veon Bell as the second-fastest players to reach that mark, behind only former Colts star Edgerrin James (44).
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL