The Cowboys kept their playoff hopes alive with a victory over the 49ers. They did it without Ezekiel Elliott and with Tony Pollard.
Last month, owner Jerry Jones called Elliott the team’s “best football player.” On Sunday, Pollard accounted for more yards from scrimmage than Elliott had in any of his 13 games this season.
Pollard gained 132 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns on 18 touches.
While Elliott was happy for Pollard, calling his understudy “super explosive,” Pollard’s performance surely should motivate Elliott. Cowboys fans have called for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to give Pollard more touches this season.
Pollard only got them Sunday because Elliott’s calf injury wouldn’t cooperate.
Elliott, Jones and McCarthy all said last week they expected Elliott, who was questionable, to play. He didn’t.
“Honestly, I hadn’t been feeling the best all week, but on game days I’ve been able to go normally,” Elliott said after the game. “At first, I was feeling good. But yesterday I felt a tug. And that’s something I can’t really play with. I can play with pain and soreness, but with a tug, I can’t be as explosive as I need to be.”
Elliott plans on finishing the season if his calf will allow. He played through a hamstring injury earlier this season and the calf injury hadn’t kept him out until Sunday.
“Oh no, I’m not shutting it down,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll see if I can get out there next week.”
Elliott, a two-time rushing champion, is having the worst season of his career. He is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 64.0 rushing yards per game and has only 832 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns.