Tony Pollard got his first chance at a full-time role, and the dynamic Dallas Cowboys running back didn’t disappoint in Sunday’s 41-33 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
With Ezekiel Elliott inactive due to a calf injury, Pollard earned 52 snaps (89.7 percent), his first career game with more than 30 snaps.
“It was big for me, a dream come true — being in the league, getting a chance to start the game out, knowing the team would be dependent on me,” Pollard said, via the team’s official website. “I just tried to take advantage and make the most of it.”
Against a solid 49ers run defense, the Cowboys didn’t do a ton of straight-ahead running. Pollard led Dallas with 12 carries for 69 yards and two TDs. The second-year back, however, proved he can be a difference-maker as a pass catcher. His dynamic ability in the passing attack offers the Cowboys a different approach than Zeke. Pollard added six catches for 63 yards.
That’s not to say Pollard can’t do damage on the ground. At a pivotal point in the tug of war with the Niners, the shifty back took a carry, blasted to the second level, juked, then spun away from three potential tacklers for a 40-yard scamper. The play showed Pollard’s dynamic ability, and was the key score in the Cowboys’ fifth victory of the season.
“My guys did a good job holding their blocks, and I just let my natural ability make up for the rest,” Pollard said.
Receiver CeeDee Lamb was more forthcoming with praise.
“The 40-yarder was just icing on the cake,” Lamb said. “He balled. Obviously, with Zeke being out, I know he felt a lot of weight on his shoulders when he was named the starter. But guys like TP, they’re ready for it.”
Zeke was glad to see his backfield mate get a full-time workload.
“It was great,” Elliott said. “He’s a guy who you know is super explosive, you know he can break one at any moment. Before the last play I told him to go put it on ice, and that’s exactly what he did.”
All season, Pollard has displayed his potent ability in brief moments of opportunity. He’s been the more dynamic of the Cowboys backs this season, despite Dallas’ reliance on Zeke. The second-year back hopes that Sunday’s showing will lead to a bigger share of the backfield snaps.
“It’s big. Just knowing that everything doesn’t have to run through one guy, or a few guys,” Pollard said. “There’s different guys on the team that can carry the weight, help take some of the weight off the other guys’ shoulders, the leaders on the team. It’s definitely big.”
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