When Opportunity Knocked, Tony Pollard Delivered the Cowboys a Win

, (20) scores a first quarter touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, December 20, 2020.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

It was just minutes after Seattle’s Russell Wilson had taken the final knee in Washington to secure a win for the Seahawks and defeat for the Football Team that Tony Pollard had his moment. And even though there would be a wild exchange of 17 points in the final two minutes, it was Pollard’s 40-yard touchdown run that really put the wraps on the Cowboys’ 41-33 victory over San Francisco on Sunday.

On a day where the sledding was extremely difficult against the 49ers’ front seven, Pollard managed to cut inside Richard Sherman, duck under a collision between safety Marcell Harris and linebacker Dre Greenlaw and then sprint to the end zone for the 40-yard score that gave Dallas a 10-point lead with just 2:27 to play.

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On a day when Ezekiel Elliott was an injury scratch for the first time in his NFL career, Pollard produced 132 total yards rushing and receiving and scored twice. Looking toward the future, the Cowboys managed to stay alive in the present. Their holiday present to fans — sorry if you’re in that group all caught up in draft picks — is to remain alive in the NFC East race at least until next Sunday when a loss to Philadelphia or a Washington victory over Carolina could dismiss playoff hopes for the 5-9 Cowboys.

Pollard couldn’t really get anything going inside, which was no surprise against San Francisco and behind Dallas’ makeshift line. This was anticipated to be the case no matter which back was carrying the load. Pollard and Elliott had had nearly an equal split of snaps the last three weeks but coach Mike McCarthy said after watching Zeke in warmups Sunday, “We felt it was not in our best interests to go with him.’’

Pollard did most of his damage on swing passes as he racked up 63 yards on six receptions. This is something Kellen Moore’s offense has been unable to do with Elliott this season. He had just 81 yards on 13 catches the last seven games.

But Pollard’s 40-yard run was not only a thing of beauty for Cowboys’ fans, it feels like it was part of Elliott’s past as well. That’s not to beat him up about his loss of a burst the last few years. But you have to go back to Sept. 30, 2018, against Detroit to find Zeke’s last 40-yard run. He has made 40 starts with 743 carries since that time.

On a day when the Cowboys managed just 308 yards rushing and receiving (to San Francisco’s 469), Pollard totaled more than 42% of the Cowboys’ offense. It has been more than a minute since any back around here did such a thing. And Elliott hasn’t totaled 130 yards rushing and receiving since last season.

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SOURCE: Dallas Morning News, Tim Cowlishaw