Ezekiel Elliott has studied every fumble to see “where things went wrong”

USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott took the blame for the Cowboys’ loss Monday night after his two fumbles put his team in a 14-0 hole. The Cowboys running back apologized to the team, too.

“I just wanted to let them know how terrible I felt,” Elliott said Wednesday. “And that I’m supposed to be a guy this team and this offense can rely on and lean on when things get rough, and I just wasn’t that last Monday night. [I told the team] that I was sorry and I promise [to get it right].”

Elliott has four touchdowns and five fumbles the past five games. He lost four of those fumbles.

Elliott said he has tried to figure out why and how.

“What I did was I went back to high school days, I went back and got cutups of all my fumbles ever, and then looked at them and looked at what I did wrong and what I could have done better,” Elliott said. “That’s what I’ve been doing this week, just kind of studying my fumbles and seeing where things went wrong and what I can do to keep that ball tighter and have better ball security.”

He would not allow what he saw: “I don’t want to give away all my weaknesses right here.”

The bottom line is: The Cowboys need Elliott to play better. He has not had a 100-yard game this season, his longest stretch without one.

The Cowboys briefly benched Elliott on Monday night, but coach Mike McCarthy said Elliott would start Sunday at Washington.

“I think we all recognize Zeke’s played a tremendous amount of football,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “I mean he’s been carrying the football probably his whole life, so his instinct and awareness, I would definitely classify him as very high in that category of all the running backs I’ve been around in my career. But I think what’s most important of this tough moment we’re going through with our turnover ratio is to recognize the importance he places on himself. I get to see Zeke every day. I get to see Zeke in the front row of the team meeting. I see Zeke in the front row of the quarterback-center meeting this morning. His conversation to the team after the game. So that’s the belief that I put myself in.

“He knows how to carry the football. He understands the points of pressure, and we have video of everything we do. At the end of the day, it’s the focus. we have to get it done. I don’t know how may different ways I can continue to talk about it. We all understand the impact it’s had on the outcome and path in games we’ve been involved in. So we need to take care of the football and we need to start winning these turnover battles week in and week out.”

The Cowboys are an NFL-worst minus-12 in turnover ratio, with three takeaways and 15 turnovers.