Let the trash talk commence!
Fresh off a rout of the New York Giants, punctuated by a last-second defensive touchdown, the Dallas Cowboys are riding high heading into their next contest, a Sunday Night Football home showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.
After limiting Giants superstar running back Saquon Barkley to a paltry 28 yards on 14 attempts, the Cowboys feel confident in their ability to contain Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, who currently leads the NFL with 894 yards and nine touchdowns on 177 carries.
The team’s unofficial mouthpiece, $105 million pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, said so, anyway.
“Not this week,” Lawrence strongly stated Thursday, per USA Today, when quarterback Dak Prescott asked if Cook paced the league.
The owner of five 100-yard efforts in nine games, Cook hasn’t crossed the century mark since Week 7 despite consecutive prime matchups against the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs. But he’s a threat to score at any point on the field, on any given play, at any time. A 5-foot-10, 210-pound game-buster, Cook is the engine that makes the Vikings’ offense go, not unlike Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys.
Who recognizes that his counterpart is “definitely a special guy.”
“Just his speed, his ability to stretch and cut and make guys miss,” Elliott said, per the Dallas Morning News.
Sunday’s battle could devolve into a defensive struggle, as it pits the league’s third-best rushing offense against the 11th-best run defense, which is ceding 97.2 yards per game.
Dallas has not allowed a three-digit rusher since Week 5, when Green Bay’s Aaron Jones collected 107 yards on the ground in the Packers’ 34-24 victory.
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Dallas isn’t exactly trotting out a slouch in Elliott, who’s turned in three straight 100-yard games, including a season-high 139 yards in the team’s 37-18 victory over New York. He’s up to 741 yards and six TDs on 158 carries, good for sixth overall among all NFL RBs.
But Elliott, the richest runner in the sport’s history, doesn’t feel as if he’s given the organization its proper return on investment, nor does he believe he’s the best at his position as things stand today.
“I wouldn’t say so,” Elliott said, via the Dallas Morning News. “I think there’s been running backs that have played better than me this year. … I don’t think it bothers me. It kind of adds a little fuel to the fire. I’ve got some more work to do. That’s all.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL