The Dallas Cowboys insist they don’t care whether Ezekiel Elliott breaks the rookie rushing record. “It’s not a focus,” they repeat. The Philadelphia Eagles maintain preventing Elliott from getting the record isn’t a concern of theirs Sunday.
The only one, it seems, who cares if Elliott gets the record is Eric Dickerson.
Dickerson has held the record the past 32 seasons, and despite Elliott being on pace to top the mark several times this season, the former Los Angeles Rams running back is unlikely to lose it this season.
“I don’t think that’s a big deal to him,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said of Elliott. “Obviously, it’s something he wanted to do. It’s the competitor in him. He wants to go out there and break as many records as he can. But he knows the importance of getting rest and getting ready for this postseason.”
Elliott ranks third on the NFL’s all-time rookie rushing list with 1,631 yards. He should move into second place in the regular-season finale Sunday, passing George Rogers, who rushed for 1,674 yards in 1981 with the New Orleans Saints.
Dickerson’s record of 1,808 yards, though, seems out of reach.
“It’s the ultimate team sport,” Elliott said. “It takes 11 guys. I just learned through experience, you don’t focus on that. You focus on going out there and winning ballgames, and good things happen. Good things come with that.”
Elliott, the league’s leading rusher, needs 178 yards to pass Dickerson. He averages 108 yards. Elliott’s single-game high came two weeks ago against Tampa Bay when he rushed for 159 yards.
“I don’t think that’s really been at all something discussed,” Cowboys guard Zack Martin said of the record. “I mean, obviously the media likes to talk about it, and it would be cool to have, but that’s not something we sit down and really talk about.”
With the Cowboys having clinched the No. 1 seed, giving them a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, Elliott isn’t likely to play long against the Eagles.
The Cowboys pulled him late in the third quarter Monday after taking a 35-21 lead on their way to a 42-21 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Elliott points out he doesn’t “control who plays or how much a person plays,” but he admits if it was left up to him he would never leave the field.
“Especially with the bye in the playoffs, you want to continue this momentum we had,” Elliott said. “You don’t really want to take two weeks off and come back and play at the highest level of football that you’ve played in during your whole career. I definitely want to play and keep my rhythm going.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t want anyone in his ear on the sideline telling him how close Elliott is to the record, saying, “We don’t think about that kind of stuff.”
“I just think everybody on our team understands that,” Garrett said. “It’s about the team. It’s not about individual records. Guys have articulated that. Guys live that out each and every day. Different guys on our team have different roles every week, and they embrace them.
“Hopefully, they understand that what we’re trying to do as coaches is put them in the best position to help us win ballgames, do what’s best for the team. Zeke understands that. Certainly, he knows we like him a lot, and we like to give him the ball. He’s had a big impact on our team. But it’s always about winning first, and it’s about the team first.”
Cowboys at Eagles
Noon Sunday, KDFW/4