Those flashy Dallas Cowboys rookies were at their flashy selves again Monday night.
Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott combined to put on yet another stellar performance as the Cowboys upended the Detroit Lions 42-21 before a sellout crowd of 92,885 at AT&T Stadium.
Prescott completed 15 of 20 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns, while Elliott rushed 12 times for 80 yards and two scores. The dynamic duo’s effort heated up the recurring debate on which one deserves to win the NFL’s MVP award and which one should capture the league’s Rookie of the Year trophy.
What Prescott and Elliott turned in against the Lions sure didn’t hurt either’s argument.
While Prescott has passed for 3,418 yards and 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions, Elliott entered Monday’s game with 1,551 yards rushing and wound up passing Ottis Anderson (1,605 in 1979), Edgerrin James (1,553 in 1999) and Alfred Morris (1,613 in 2012) for most rushing yards among rookies.
The only players ahead of Elliott’s 1,631 yards are George Rogers (1,674 yards in 1981) and Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983).
With his output against the Lions, Elliott joins Dickerson as the only rookies to rush for 1,600-plus yards and score at least 15 touchdowns in a season. Elliott has 15 rushing touchdowns and one receiving.
Elliott is 178 yards from passing Dickerson, but the Cowboys are chasing something much bigger than individual records.
“No, I don’t think about that kind of stuff,” coach Jason Garrett said when asked about the rookie rushing record.
Elliott went out of the game for good late in the third quarter in favor of Darren McFadden, who wound up with 49 yards rushing on 14 attempts.
“We wanted to play Zeke in this ballgame — he did a really good job and made a lot of good plays for us,” Garrett said. “I thought he ran tough.
“Some of those inside runs, those dirty runs, made a big impact on the ballgame. But we wanted to give Darren some work and he took advantage of it.”
Prescott tossed scoring passes of 21 yards to Brice Butler, and 25 and 19 yards to Dez Bryant, while Elliott darted for scoring bursts of 55 and 1 yards.
“I think the biggest thing is just his understanding on what we’re trying to do and what the defense is trying to do to him in his decision-making,” Garrett said. “He’s throwing in the right place for the most part.
“I think he has a good, clean understanding of correction and where he wants to go with the football and I think the accuracy follows from that.”
That accuracy has Prescott with only nine incompletions in the past two games.
“He doesn’t look indecisive, he doesn’t look unsure, he’s got a clear understanding of what he wants to do and then he executes it,’’ Garrett said. “The guys have done a good job around him of protecting well, and guys are getting open, so he’s really executing, doing what we’re asking him to do and playing at a high level.”
Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice