Ezekiel Elliott’s 97 rushing yards against the Washington Redskins on Thursday made it nine games in a row of 90-plus yards rushing for the rookie, all of them during the Cowboys’ team record 10-game regular-season win streak.
Elliott has gained 100 or more total yards in eight of those 10 wins, including against Washington, as he added two catches for 23 yards, to put him at 120 total yards to go along with two scores.
But the Redskins made Elliott work for that yardage after he feasted on the game’s opening possession. He ran for 43 yards and accounted for 47 total yards of the game-opening 75-yard drive that ended with his first touchdown, a 4-yarder up the middle.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“That’s how we like to start,” Elliott said. “We like to start off fast and set the tone, and we came out fast today.”
That score made Elliott the first Cowboy runner to score 10 touchdowns in his rookie season since Emmitt Smith in 1990.
He barreled through the middle again on his second touchdown to put Dallas up two scores with 6:29 left. Elliott’s 11 touchdowns are one behind New England’s LeGarrette Blount, the NFL leader with 12 rushing scores.
“He’s exceeded all my expectations,” left guard Ron Leary said of Elliott. “He’s a great back and he makes us look a lot better than what we are by hitting holes like that.”
Never before in a single regular season have the Cowboys sustained the kind of success they have in 2016. For a franchise that has five Super Bowl championships, that is notable.
The Cowboys’ 10-game win streak includes a season sweep of the Redskins, essential for Dallas to keep its death grip on the NFC East.
The Cowboys have won 10 consecutive football games before, in 1971 they won the final seven regular-season games then three postseason games, including Dallas’ Super Bowl VI victory over the Dolphins.
“I have all the appreciation in the world for the success, and I know how we are getting it done,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “We’re getting it done by hard work, and Dak [Prescott] is a great example of that.”
Prescott’s six-yard rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter, which put Dallas up 24-12, was his fifth rushing touchdown of the year, tying Don Meredith for the most single-season rushing scores by a quarterback in franchise history.
“I never go into the game thinking we are going to lose; it’s always what do we have to do to win,” Prescott said. “Nobody is waiting for someone to make that play. Everybody is ready to make that play themselves.”
Safety J.J. Wilcox could barely walk after the game. He dragged his left leg behind him, repeatedly declining comment.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wilcox has a thigh contusion.
The bad news was tempered by the fact that the player Wilcox replaced in the starting lineup, Barry Church, expects to practice and play this week.
“I’ll be practicing all this week, and I’ll be back and going by Thursday,” Church said. “I would say right now I’m probably around 90, 92 percent, but once they put the cast on, I should be good.”
Church has missed the past four games after undergoing surgery on the forearm he broke against Philadelphia on Oct. 30.
“Super excited,” Church said. “I can’t stop smiling. Just to go out there and try to help my teammates win some more is going to be unbelievable.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne, who has missed the past four games with a groin injury, will miss at least one more game. He said he will undergo an MRI after the Cowboys’ game against Minnesota.
Staff writer Charean Williams contributed to this report.