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Cowboys offensive line knows it has to improve

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Elliott not making excuse for poor effort (0:36)

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott addresses his lack of effort on Sunday against the Broncos. (0:36)

FRISCO, Texas -- Coach Jason Garrett likes to say the success of the Dallas Cowboys’ running game depends on everybody.

The running back needs to find the right hole. The wide receivers and tight ends have to handle their assignments. The offensive line has to work as a cohesive unit.

All-Pro center Travis Frederick agrees, to a degree.

“But I think it comes down to our offensive line performing better and focusing on the techniques and things we practice day in and day out and go out and do them on game day,” Frederick said.

Last week, the Cowboys ran 14 times for 40 yards in the loss to the Denver Broncos. The longest run was an 11-yard scramble by quarterback Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott ran nine times for 8 yards.

It was the second-worst rushing performance the Cowboys have had since Frederick and fellow All-Pros Tyron Smith and Zack Martin joined the team in 2014. In the 2015 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Cowboys ran 14 times for 31 yards.

There was a similar pattern: The Cowboys trailed 23-3 at halftime that day, plus Tony Romo was hurt on the final play of the third quarter.

Against Denver, the Cowboys were down 28-10 when they had their first possession of the third quarter.

Before last week, Elliott’s lowest production was 51 yards in the 2016 season opener.

“Obviously it’s not what we want, but I think just the flow of the game, we got down and we had to throw so it’s tough to win, especially because you want to run the ball,” Martin said. “We’ve got to do a better job when we had the opportunity to run. We didn’t do what we needed to do.”

The Cardinals are allowing 79 yards a game on the ground in their first two games, but their first two opponents -- the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts -- do not possess running games similar to the Cowboys.

“It comes down to everybody doing their job on every play,” Frederick said. “It might be one guy [making a mistake] one play and it might be the next guy on the next play. As far as grading out, it might not be that bad, but when you look at it as a group, the way it all fits together as one, if you say our group had a failure, then that counts as a group failure and we didn’t play very well.”

The Cowboys’ line is often referred to as the best in football because of Smith, Frederick and Martin and how they helped DeMarco Murray and Elliott to rushing titles in 2014 and 2016. Their reputation might precede them and lead to defenses trying to shoot holes in their title as the league’s best.

“I went through this in college and here,” said Martin, who played at Notre Dame. “I think when anyone plays the Dallas Cowboys, they’re going to be geared up and vice versa, we’ve got to be geared up for everyone. That was definitely not anything we wanted on Sunday, but we’re moving forward and looking forward to playing Arizona.”