Following Sunday’s 35-31 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was polite when asked about the decision from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that should come down in the next few days, offering clarity on the ongoing legal fight with the NFL over his six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The court could reject the NFL’s request for an emergency stay of the preliminary injunction that is keeping him on the field, forcing him to begin the suspension immediately.
The stay could be rejected, allowing him to play the rest of the season while the case is tried in court.
Or it could be thrown out completely by the 5th Circuit, re-implementing the suspension and forcing Elliott to try for another injunction with a court in New York.
“I’m not talking about it, sorry,” said Elliott, in his only comments on the subject.
If it was his final game and he is sidelined for the next seven weeks, considering next week’s bye, he let his play do a lot of talking.
Elliott rushed 29 times for 116 yards in what was his best rushing game of the season. The 29 carries were the second most of his career.
He had 13 carries for 85 yards in the fourth quarter.
And his best and most important play might have been a stretch on a fourth-and-1 play that showed there is no quit in Elliott. Not this time.
Down 28-24, the Cowboys embarked on a 17-play, 89-yard scoring drive.
The crucial moment came on fourth and 1 at the Green Bay 20 with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game.
Elliott ran into a wall.
The officials ruled him down, short of the first down.
A replay showed that a determined Elliott stretched the ball over the yard to gain.
Coach Jason Garrett threw out the challenge flag and the Cowboys kept the ball.
"I saw them in the goal line defense with their four interior d-linemen just in a fourth-point stance crouching already low," Elliott said. "I knew they were going to go and cut our linemen. Then I saw the linebackers were positioned a little bit wide, ready for the bounce so I knew the only way I was going to get that was getting up over the pile and sticking the ball out. I hate doing that on short yardage. I knew in that moment you’ve got to have it, you've got to get that fourth down."
He got it.
Three plays later, quarterback Dak Prescott scored on a perfect zone read against a defense keying on Elliott.
It was Elliott’s second 100-yard game of the season and evidence that the running game is showing signs of the former style that allowed him to lead the league in rushing as a rookie.
It was a matter of sticking with it on Sunday as Elliott had 30 yards on 14 carries in the first half, averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
"Got to thank [offensive coordinator Scott] Linehan," Elliott said. "That was genius how much he trusted the run game. You saw earlier in the game they were just stacking the box crazy. So many guys were in there. Linehan had faith in us and we kept running the ball and eventually wore them out. There in the fourth quarter we had some gashing runs."
Whether Elliott gets the build on the fourth-quarter surge will be decided by the 5th Circuit Court this week.