FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott admitted Thursday that he showed "bad effort" in last week's 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos, during which he failed to track back on two interception returns.
"I would say I was just very frustrated, but that's no excuse for the lack of effort I showed on tape," said Elliott, who was held to a career-low 8 yards on nine carries. "I just can't do that. Being one of the leaders on the team and being a guy that people count on, I can't put that type of stuff on film."
Coach Jason Garrett addressed the poor effort by Elliott and other players at the team meeting Wednesday. Elliott drew the biggest public criticism; Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, an NFL Network analyst, said Elliott "absolutely quit on his team."
Elliott stood with his hands on his hips after Chris Harris Jr. collected a deflected ball off Dez Bryant's hands for the first pick of a Dak Prescott pass. On Aqib Talib's interception return for a touchdown, Elliott remained on the ground after blocking a blitzing defender, and he did not get involved in the chase.
"Zeke's a professional. Zeke knows how to play football at this level. He's demonstrated that over the course of his career," Garrett said Thursday. "He's not perfect. Nobody is perfect. When things happen, we address them. We coach them, and then we move forward."
Garrett was perplexed by Elliott's lack of effort, especially considering that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Elliott was the best player he has coached without the ball in his hands.
"It's definitely not me. It's definitely not the type of player I am," Elliott said. "It's definitely not who I am for this team. I just can't do that. I was frustrated, and I wasn't myself."
Prescott does not expect the questions about Elliott's effort come up again.
"I know who he is. I know the type of football player he is, and the type of guy he is," Prescott said. "I've never, and never will, question his competitiveness or his lack of effort or whatever you want to say. I'll never question that. I know he's going to be there for me, for his teammates, for this organization, so I don't pay attention to what other people say."