The Cowboys insist they will play to win Sunday despite having nothing on the line. Ezekiel Elliott does have something on the line — the NFL rushing title — though that’s not why he wants to play.
“This is not a week off. This is not a game that doesn’t matter,” Elliott said. “I think it’s important for us to go win this ball game and gain some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Apparently, only the NFL can stop Elliott.
Whether he plays or not, the Cowboys star running back likely has won his second rushing title in three years. The only time he didn’t win it was last season when the NFL suspended him for six games, and Elliott still led the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Elliott has 1,434 rushing yards this season. That is 183 more than Rams running back Todd Gurley, who didn’t play Sunday and could remain on the sideline in Week 17. Rookie Saquon Barkley is 236 yards behind Elliott, and Barkley plays the Cowboys on Sunday. He had 11 carries for 28 yards against the Cowboys in Week Two.
Two years ago, when the Cowboys were in the same position in Week 17, Elliott dressed but did not see the field in the regular-season finale against the Eagles. Elliott still won the rushing title with 1,631 yards.
Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, won four rushing titles in his 15 seasons and led the league in yards per game three times.