Cowboys’ 1-2 punch at running back could redefine their ceiling

The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of a remarkable season, but the team’s 40-3 win over the previously 8-1 Vikings was their most important statement victory of the year, and it showed us how dangerous this team really could be moving forward.

Everything worked for the Cowboys in Minnesota, especially on offense, as the 458 total yards they posted was their highest all season.

Dak Prescott was very effective against the Vikings defense, completing 22-of-25 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, complete with zero turnovers. But while Prescott’s performance may have stolen the show in the short-term, the longer-lasting impact on Dallas’ season will come due to the balanced rushing attack from Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard that emerged.

Elliott’s numbers won’t have you jumping out of your seat, with 42 yards on the ground, though he did find the end zone twice. Pollard had himself a special day, with 80 yards rushing the ball, to go along with 109 receiving yards and two touchdowns as a pass catcher.

Cowboys 1-2 punch at running back elevates them from Wild Card to contender

The exciting running back duo combined for 236 yards of offense, which was 53 more yards than the entire Vikings offense gained all day.

The consistent efforts running the ball allowed some of the pressure to come off Prescott, as he was able to take what the defense was giving him. The Cowboys offense functions much better when they don’t have to rely so much on Prescott, as we perfectly saw against the Vikings.

Elliott and Pollard each had 15 carries, the fourth time during the 2022 season that both players carried the ball 10+ times. In each of those games, the Cowboys have rushed the ball for over 100 yards, and they’ve won three of the four games.

In my opinion, this is when the Cowboys offense is most effective, and we can see the full potential of Kellen Moore’s unit. Is Pollard more valuable as a starting running back than Elliott? Well, that’s a different conversation — and one the Cowboys may not get a chance to have, considering Pollard’s upcoming free agency.

It is clear however, that the Cowboys might have found their winning formula on offense, and one that the team is going to take advantage of as we inch closer to the playoffs.