Where has this team been all season? That seems to be the prevailing thought coming out of the Cowboys 44-21 victory over a Los Angeles Rams team that was coming off three consecutive victories and fighting for their playoff life. Dallas came out and dominated in every phase of the game en route to knocking off Los Angeles by four touchdowns.
The offense was able to finish drives and the defense came to play — the defense flew all over the field, made Jared Goff uncomfortable in the pocket, and completed their tackles. Aside from a receiving touchdown early in the game, Todd Gurley was a non-factor as the Rams running back was held to just 20 yards on the ground while averaging less than two yards per carry.
It was as if a completely different team suited up in Dallas Cowboys colors on Sunday afternoon. It was as complete and dominant performance as we have seen in a while from this squad and it could not have happened at a better time — as the team looks to win the division and gain some momentum going into the playoffs.
One of the biggest bright spots in Sunday’s rout over the Rams was a member of the 2019 rookie class, a draft class that has otherwise been very, very meh. Tony Pollard was given a bigger role in the game plan and he delivered. The Memphis product touched the rock a total of 14 times for 145 yards from scrimmage, including leading the team in rushing.
Pollard brings a ton of versatility to an offense that likes to create explosive plays; he is able to provide an impact as both a ball carrier and as a pass catcher while also offering some value in the return game. His versatility and play-making ability made him dangerous at Memphis in a crowded backfield and it has a chance of carrying over in the pros as well.
Ezekiel Elliotth played some of the best ball of the 2019 season in week 15, as he averaged nearly five yards per carry and found the end zone twice on the ground. Elliott had success moving the chains and was even able to get out into the open field. He was a force in between the tackles and the Rams struggled to bring the Pro Bowl back down. As soon as the defense was worn out from attempting to slow down Zeke, in came Tony Pollard.
Pollard capitalized on the opportunities that he was given on Sunday, such as the 44-yard touchdown that put the exclamation point on a dominant victory that many are hoping is the start to a big late-season turnaround.
Tony Pollard to the @TP__5 | #LARvsDAL pic.twitter.com/F50dgjlYYq— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 16, 2019
All-in-all, the fourth-round rookie averaged just under 11 yards per carry (10.9) and added an average of six yards per reception versus the Rams. While Pollard’s role in the offense has changed over the weeks, he has shown the ability to produce when the ball in his hands.
Here is every 10+ yard touch by #Cowboys RB Tony Pollard this season: pic.twitter.com/IytTpLgvuD— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 17, 2019
The Cowboys have struggled to close out games this season despite being atop many offensive categories. Dak Prescott has taken his game to another level as a passer and the two-headed monster of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup give Dallas a pair of dangerous weapons on the outside. Randall Cobb has shown the ability to be a big target for Prescott and Blake Jarwin brings a ton of excitement to the table.
Still, we know this team likes to run the football. After all, Ezekiel Elliott received a big pay-day prior to the season, and he is going to his third Pro Bowl in his first four NFL seasons. While Elliott did look a lot like himself last week, having another option in the run game would only make this offensive take even more dangerous.
Zeke is the powerful, downhill runner that has the ability to take hits and wear down a defense over four quarters. Pollard is the speedy, change-of-pace back that can catch the defense off guard and take it the distance. The Cowboys would only be more dangerous and explosive if they consistently utilize both.
The running back duo had a strong performance against a formidable opponent last Sunday. If that was a preview of what is to come from the Cowboys offense, good things should follow.