DENVER – Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall was shocked when he heard how little Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott had delivered in Denver’s ultra-convincing 42-17 victory over Dallas.
Elliott rushed nine times for eight yards. Yes, it's true. Nine carries. Eight yards. That’s a 0.9 yard per carry average.
“Wow!” Marshall said. “Damn! That’s crazy.”
Elliott was – and this is not a surprise – as excited as Marshall about those numbers.
Had he ever been held to less than 10 yards in a game?
“Never,” Elliott said, answering the question. And that’s all he said.
Elliott was a sensation last season as a rookie, rushing for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was a model of consistency, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 108.7 yards per game.
A year ago, the Broncos were spotty against the run, finishing 28th in the NFL in rush defense. Last week, the Broncos listened to various analysts who predicted Elliott and the Cowboys would run wild on Sunday.
The Broncos had a different view of the future.
“Man, we had a great plan,” Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib said. “We knew we had a great plan to stop that run, and we knew we got the dogs up front. It might surprise you guys, man, but it don’t surprise us. We spent so much time, trying to make it better than last year.”
The Cowboys offensive line was utterly dominated by the Broncos front. This meant Elliott had nowhere to run.
Elliott is expected to revive from this extremely long Sunday.
“We all know who Ezekiel is around here,” said Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. “He’s the best back in the league.”
That might be true, even if Elliott resembled The Invisible Man Sunday afternoon as he labored in vain the edge of downtown Denver.