One day after another disappointing playoff exit marked the end to the Cowboys’ season, it was revealed exactly what had been ailing their top running back. Ezekiel Elliott had been playing much of the season with a partially torn PCL, although he will not require offseason surgery, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
The injury took place in Week 4 against the Panthers, but he was able to play through it without missing any of the team’s games. He looked to be off to a great start in 2022 at that point, having scored four touchdowns and averaging more than five yards per carry. He had another big day the following week against the Giants – 21 carries for 110 yards and another touchdown – but seemed to be increasingly bothered by the injury beyond that. The team considered resting him for a game or two in November, but decided against it. Wearing a brace for the final five games of the regular season, as well as last night’s loss to the 49ers, the 26-year-old never topped 87 rushing yards from Week 6 onwards.
In the playoff game itself, Elliott totalled just 31 yards on 12 carries, and caught only one of four targets for no gain. When asked about the injury that clearly slowed him down, he said “I just partially tore my PCL this year”. He added that “it was an injury that wasn’t going to get worse”, which is why he played through it for almost an entire season. He concluded by saying “I feel like everyone else in that locker room would have done the same”.
The fact that Elliott was far from 100% makes it curious that backup Tony Pollard was as uninvolved as he was on Sunday. While he was able to resume his usual kick-retuning duties, Pollard had a total of six touches for a combined 26 yards. At this point, the team can only hope they are each healthy for the start of next year, as their offseason has now begun earlier than expected.