Ezekiel Elliott helped propel the Dallas Cowboys to the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but he didn’t get a chance to make history in Week 17, sitting out the entire game. Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris handled the workload against the Philadelphia Eagles, while Elliott took a rest along with most of the starters.
Elliott ends the regular season with a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards, 177 short of Eric Dickerson’s record for rushing yards by a rookie. Dickerson keeps the record with 1,808 yards in the 1983 season.
However, even while sitting out the final game, Elliott did something only four other rookie rushers have done:
Ezekiel Elliott will be 5th rookie since 1970 merger to lead NFL in rushing (Earl Campbell, George Rogers, Eric Dickerson, Edgerrin James) pic.twitter.com/soRIpbSQZP— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) January 1, 2017
The Cowboys selected Elliott No. 4 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. There were questions raised about using a valuable pick on a running back, a position considered fungible in this day and age. However, Elliott immediately quieted the criticisms with brilliant play week in and week out.
He obviously gets a lot of help from an elite offensive line, but Elliott is the total package of size, speed, and power. He makes people miss, he drags defenders for extra yards, and he can make opponents look silly with quick cuts.
And when he gets space to run, look out. Elliott’s second gear in the open field is something to behold.
Elliott became an instant star in Dallas and is the stone-cold favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He’s also in the MVP conversation, with the Cowboys’ offense running through him. Though he couldn’t reach Dickerson’s record, Elliott still had a fantastic season. He’s the engine driving the Cowboys as they seek a return to the Super Bowl.