The Dallas Cowboys advanced to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs on the strength of their running game and run defense. On Saturday night, it proved to be their downfall.
The Cowboys allowed their most rushing yards in a postseason game, while Ezekiel Elliott was held to 47 yards in a 30-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. It was Dallas’ sixth straight loss in the divisional round, and it has not reached the NFC championship game since 1996.
Dallas allowed only 73 yards in its wild-card round victory over Seattle, who came in with the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack. The Cowboys didn’t have the same success against the league’s No. 3 rushing team, surrendering 275 yards. The old mark was 269 against the Rams in 1986.
It also marks the first time two running backs have had 100-yard games against the Cowboys in the postseason. Behind a dominant game from the offensive line, Todd Gurley (115) and C.J. Anderson (123) averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth led the way on the offensive line, winning his matchups when paired up against defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.
The Cowboys’ running game also struggled. Elliott averaged just 2.4 yards on 20 carries. It marked the first time in three postseason games that the third-year running back was held under 100 yards.
Quarterback Dak Prescott had a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, but he wasn’t used on any designed runs until the final 15 minutes, when Dallas was down by two scores.
The epitome of the Cowboys’ ground game woes on both sides came in the fourth quarter. Dallas was down 23-15 and on the Rams 35 when Elliott was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1. Los Angeles then went on a 12-play, 65-yard touchdown drive where all but two plays were runs. The drive was capped off by a 1-yard score by Anderson.