It’s not all falling apart for the Dallas Cowboys, but the later stages of the first half were an absolute disaster for Mike McCarthy’s squad.
Between Brett Maher’s extra point getting blocked, Dak Prescott throwing a costly interception deep in 49ers territory, and Tony Pollard hobbling off the field with an apparent ankle injury, momentum quickly turned back to San Francisco’s favor after the Cowboys jumped out to a 6-3 lead with a Dalton Schultz touchdown.
The top concern right now, though, is Pollard, who was carted to the locker room. Pollard had a towel over his head and a air cast on his left leg, seemingly indicating that he won’t return to the game … and that he’s dealing with a potentially significant injury.
The initial believe is Pollard suffered a high-ankle sprain; akin to the injury Patrick Mahomes’ suffered in the Chiefs’ win over Jacksonville.
How long will it take Cowboys RB Tony Pollard to recover from a high ankle sprain?
If the Cowboys go on to lose, Pollard will have the entire offseason to get right. Should Dallas overcome its woeful end to the first half and win the game, though, could Pollard make it back in time for the NFC Championship Game?
It’s tough to know for sure until Pollard undergoes an MRI, but this insight from Washington University Physicians offers some clarity.
"Despite the fact that most athletes who experience a low ankle sprain can return to sports within one to three weeks following the injury, those players who sustain a high ankle sprain are often out of sports for four to six weeks depending upon the injury severity. Sports that involve cutting and pivoting, such as football, are especially difficult to play in the setting of a high ankle sprain. The player’s position may also dictate the length of recuperation as running backs or linebackers who have to quickly change direction are often the most disabled with this injury. For those athletes who require surgery, sports activity can usually be resumed in approximately four months. Therefore, surgery for this injury typically results in an inability to return the same season. Once an athlete sustains an ankle sprain, he or she, unfortunately, is more prone to future injuries. It is for this reason that most NFL teams require their players to have their ankles taped or braced during competition in an attempt to reduce the risk for recurrence."
That is a huge gut punch for the Cowboys. While a quarterback like Mahomes can withstand playing through the injury, Pollard is so reliant on lateral movements and quick cuts on his ankle to manufacture yards out of the backfield that he faces a likely multi-week absence. Mahomes, meanwhile, can simply sit back in the pocket and pick apart defenses with his arm, giving him a better chance to play even though he’ll be compromised.
Before exiting, Pollard produced 22 rushing yards on six carries. It’ll be the Ezekiel Elliott (and Malik Davis) show from here on out. Not the news any Cowboys fan wanted given Elliott’s lack of efficiency over the last several games.