LANDOVER, MD – The Cowboys rallied to beat the Redskins 27-23 on Sunday with but a single glaring flaw — and optimists can cling hopefully to the notion that this flaw might never again be so exposed. “Whenever the ball is in my hand, it’s my responsibility to protect it,” said Ezekiel Elliott, the rookie running back who fumbled twice (losing one) to keep this NFC East duel all-too-close. “It’s on me.”
It was “on” Zeke’s backup however, veteran Alfred Morris, to provide the final margin of victory on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against his former Redskins mates. And now some critics will wonder if Morris (five carries for seven yards) should supplant Elliott (83 yards on 21 carries with a TD) as a starter. You held your breath through Zeke’s dropsies. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a dramatic lineup change.
Dez Bryant on Elliott: “He’s going to be one of those great ones in this league,” said Dez Bryant, who, with seven catches and 102 yards receiving was one of the many things that went well here. “We need Zeke. We love Zeke. He’s gonna be that monster.”
Elliott’s not yet a “monster” but he’s also not a fumbler; at Ohio State he registered just three fumbles in three years.
That’s a positive trend, and in this game, so was Dallas’ red-zone defense (with clutch work from the secondary featuring a Barry Church interception), a beleaguered pass rush that ended with two sacks, and an offense that looked both creative and cool under the guidance of Tony Romo temp replacement Dak Prescott, an anti-turnover machine who cures whatever would usually ail an offense keyed by a pair of rookies.
In QB’ing the now 1-1 Cowboys, Prescott was 22-of-30 for 292 yards passing with a touchdown run in this game, and zero interceptions in his first 70 throws, an NFL record for a rookie’s first two starts.
How many times has Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seen a cooler customer as a Cowboys rookie QB than this one? “None,” he said. “Troy (Aikman) is one of the greatest to ever play the game. But right (off) the bat, we’ve had none that have had the ability to feel it…and execute calmly.”
Dallas will have other flaws exposed, other holes in the dike requiring plugging. But these two games say they don’t have one with the rookie QB. And his history says they don’t have one with the rookie RB, either.