Holding a precarious three-point advantage, the Dallas Cowboys needed a big play.
For weeks, the Cowboys have needed better and bigger showings from their running game.
In one pivotal pitch to Tony Pollard, Dallas got what it desired.
Pollard's 58-yard touchdown run in the third quarter ignited a dormant Dallas offense, gave the Cowboys a 10-point cushion and stood as the game-winning score as the NFC East frontrunners shrugged off a two-game losing streak to defeat the New Orleans Saints, 27-17.
"It was huge. It was huge," Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said after the win. "Getting on the perimeter, great block by Malik Turner, obviously allowing him to get on the edge. Ran through a tackle and showed his speed. That was big and it was much-needed at the time."
Pollard's 58 yards on the one play were five more than the Cowboys' rushing attack had mustered to that point, which was at the 3:55 mark of the third quarter.
It wasn't any old big play for Pollard or the Cowboys. His sprint through the left side to paydirt was the longest run for Dallas since Alfred Morris broke a 70-yard rush in Week 4, 2017, and the franchise's longest rushing score since teammate Ezekiel Elliott's 60-yarder in Week 5, 2016.
Pollard broke loose at a pivotal time for the Cowboys, who were leading 13-10 and letting an injury-plagued Saints team hang around.
Pollard took a pitch from Prescott, shrugged off a potential tackle for a loss, weaved through traffic on the left side and then outran the Saints defense for six.
It also served as a reminder of the big-play ability of Pollard, who had a 100-yard kickoff return for a score on Thanksgiving. On that kick return, Pollard hit a max speed of 20.97 mph, per Next Gen Stats. On this Thursday night, Pollard hit a new season-high for a Dallas offensive ball carrier at 21.17 mph, per Next Gen.
Pollard finished the game with a hardly eye-popping 71 yards on seven carries, but paired with Elliott's 13 carries for 45 yards, the Cowboys' backfield tandem had 20 carries for 116 yards. As a team, the 'Boys tallied 146 yards on the ground, which was a marked improvement from the 64 they had in a Week 12 loss to the Raiders and the 82 they had in a Week 11 setback versus the Chiefs.
Through the first six weeks of the season, Dallas was averaging 164.3 yards per game on the ground, which was second in the league, per NFL Research. Since Week 7 though, that production fell to a paltry 83.2 per game, which was 29th in the league, per NFL Research. It'll take a bump north after this one.
Pollard's run was a huge turning point on Thursday night, and might well be one for the Cowboys' offense going forward on the ground.