Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had played 97 games before Sunday. He had started all 97.
In Elliott’s 98th game, it was Tony Pollard who was on the field with the first-team offense to start the game against the Colts.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy downplayed it as “I think those guys are an outstanding one-two punch.”
But owner Jerry Jones said Elliott was benched at the start of the game for a minor disciplinary issue.
“There was a little issue he had with his coach and some discipline issues — being tardy for a meeting or a phone going off or something serious, relative to Zeke, but I won’t get into that, but I’m not giving out that punishment,” Jones said. “I’d be a lot more lenient than that.”
Jones later reiterated that it was a minor transgression.
“That was not a demotion as to [not being] the first one on the field,” Jones said. “That had more to do with your phone going off at the wrong time, those types of things. Nothing of consequence. Be sure and mention that. No behavior issues.”
Elliott did not have to wait long for his opportunity, and he ended up with more carries than Pollard.
Elliott had 17 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Pollard had 12 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Elliott’s touchdown as the 76th of his career, moving him past Dez Bryant (75) and tying Bob Hayes (76) for third-most all time in team history.
Elliott, who spoke at the same time as Jones, was not asked about not starting.
“We wanted to change it up,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “And he said going in there second, those guys weren’t as fresh, and he was able to bully up on them a little bit more than usual. At this point, I don’t think it matters who goes in there on the first play of the game. I mean especially now that you’ve said that, whatever streak that is, it’s out the window and doesn’t matter. Those two guys have zero ego. They’re each other’s biggest supporters and biggest fans. They’re a special duo.”