Ezekiel Elliott would have liked to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record with the Dallas Cowboys this season. And he would have had a better shot if the team hadn’t clinched the top-seed and rested their star running back the final six quarters of the regular season.
Asked if the record would be his if he had played instead of rested, Elliott said: "Shoulda, coulda, woulda, man. I didn’t do it, though.”
But Elliott did win the NFL’s rushing title even though he didn’t play in the regular-season finale last Sunday in Philadelphia. He finished his season with 1,631 rushing yards, 178 short of Dickerson's rookie mark of 1,808 yards.
Elliott joked about the conversation he had with Dickerson recently, when Dickerson uttered his famous line: “Many have tried, many have failed.”
Of course, it’s far-fetched to say Elliott failed in his rookie season. Not to mention he has an opportunity to do something Dickerson never did – win a Super Bowl.
“We're having a great season. It would have been nice to get [the record], but that's really not what I'm focused on this season,” Elliott said. “We have a very special team.
"We're in a unique opportunity that doesn't happen a lot in this league. There's a lot of guys who this is their first playoff. We’ve got a first-round bye. We're the No. 1 seed. We have a special team. We’ve got a special bond. We’ve got an opportunity to do something special.
"Winning the Super Bowl would be way more special than the rookie rushing record."
Elliott and the Cowboys like their chances.
Elliott feels fresh after sitting out the last game-and-a-half, saying it feels almost like Week 1 again. That’s a good sign, too, Elliott should get a heavy workload in the postseason.
As coach Jason Garrett said, “It’s no holds barred for everybody. Zeke has done an outstanding job with every opportunity we’ve given him right from the start, handles himself well, practices the right way, prepares the right way, whatever we ask him to do in a game he does everything he can to do it as well as he can do it whether it’s running the ball, catching the ball, blocking.
“He’s got a great competitive spirit. He loves to play, he loves this football team. We’ll encourage him just to approach it the same way.”