SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Ezekiel Elliott felt no different Sunday than in any other game this season.
He said he has not felt the burden of a potential six-game suspension. He said he did not gain any sense of relief when a temporary restraining order was granted last week that allowed him to play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I put that all aside when I get with these guys,” Elliott said. “These guys do a good job of giving me something else to think about, keeping me up no matter what is going on out there. I’m just happy to be out here and be able to play and go get another win.”
Elliott said he expects to play next week against the Washington Redskins, but nobody knows if he will be able to play after that. It all will depend on what happens in a New York courtroom this week or next and if he is granted a preliminary injunction that will block the NFL’s suspension for violating the personal conduct policy.
Sunday’s performance was a reminder of what the Dallas Cowboys can be when everything with Elliott is right on the field.
For the most part, the first five games were a struggle for Elliott, although the nine-carry, 8-yard performance against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 stands as the outlier since he has rushed for at least 80 yards in every other game this season.
On Sunday, however, Elliott was at his best.
He ran 26 times for 147 yards and scored on runs of 1 yard and 25 yards. He also had a 72-yard touchdown catch to open the second half of the Cowboys’ dominating 40-10 win.
“I think our offense, it’s no secret that it starts with the run game and everything is set up off that,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “So we were able to run the ball early and set up big plays with Dak [Prescott] rolling out and hitting some guys down the field. It was a good day on offense for us.”
Actually, a really good day.
The Cowboys had 501 yards on offense, the most they have had in a game since the 2015 season finale. They have put up three straight games with at least 400 yards on offense. They have scored at least 30 points in three straight games for the first time since the final four games of the 2014 season.
The Cowboys’ 265 yards on the ground were the most they have had in a game since a 294-yard effort against the then-St. Louis Rams on Oct. 23, 2011. DeMarco Murray ran for 253 yards that day.
Elliott was at the center of the Cowboys’ attack Sunday.
“Really, the last few games it felt like we were getting our run game going,” tight end Jason Witten said. “It just felt like he was so powerful after the contact, really getting stretched, good speed out of the backfield to attack outside. I felt like he was in the zone.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Elliott was at his best before initial contact, picking up 104 yards, the second most he has had in a game in his career. He had 106 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15 last season.
That speaks to the offensive line’s dominance. As does this: Running to the left, Elliott picked up 44 yards on seven carries. Up the middle, he had 45 yards on 10 carries. To the right, he had 58 yards on nine carries.
Wherever the Cowboys wanted to go, they went.
“We saw in the Packers game before the bye, the offense started clicking in the fourth quarter and the running game starting to open up,” Elliott said. “We definitely carried that over to this game. We came out from play one and the O-line executed and did a great job of making creases for me to go out and run the ball.”
Clearly, the Cowboys are getting better, but now the question turns back to a courtroom. While the coaches, line and teammates express confidence in Elliott’s potential replacements -- Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden -- none have the dynamic ability of Elliott.
Without the injunction, Elliott would be out until Dec. 17 if he can play this week against Washington.
The Cowboys’ season hopes in a lot of ways are in the hands of judge Katherine Fallia. If she grants the injunction, then their hopes would be back on the legs of Elliott, and on Sunday he proved just how important he is to what the Cowboys want to do.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever been negligent or anything in saying what Zeke means to our team. It will hurt us when we don’t have Zeke, and so I don’t like to think about playing ballgames without Zeke,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “On the other hand, we’ve got some good players there. But still, I don’t need to be reminded. We don’t need to be reminded. We have seen Zeke now throughout his entire career. He’s an integral part of our team and would be an asset to anybody playing football.”