Tony Pollard wasn't just great for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. He also had more yards and points than the team he faced, the Minnesota Vikings.
The Cowboys were dominant in all phases in their 40-3 undressing of the Vikings, who came into the game with an 8-1 record. Dak Prescott threw for 276 yards with only three incompletions, Brett Maher was 4 of 4 on field goals (including three from 50-plus) and Dallas' defense smothered the Vikings.
"We knew we needed to respond after last week," Prescott said. "If we can continue to do this, this team can be special."
But Pollard's biggest game of the season can't go overlooked in this potentially special season. He totaled 189 yards from scrimmage and caught two TD passes, of 30 and 68 yards, without being touched by a Vikings defender after either catch.
On the 68-yarder that blew the game open early in the third quarter, Pollard told NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero: "Yeah, that's the little play we put in this week. Kinda been working on it and we just called it at the right time, and it hit big for us."
Starter Ezekiel Elliott ran for two scores in the game, sniping one from Pollard after he'd done all of the work to get the Cowboys near the end zone and accumulated more than half of Dallas' yards on its first TD drive of the game. Pollard followed up an 18-yard run on that possession with a 20-yard run the following play.
Pollard would end up with 80 rush yards on 15 carries. Elliott totaled 42 yards on the same number of carries.
Prior to Week 10, Pollard never had touched the ball 20 times in a game nor ran it more than 14 times. The past two games, he's surpassed both marks in both games.
For the past few years, there has been a spirited debate in Cowboys circles. Should Pollard be starting (and receiving the bulk of the carries) over Elliott? Some say absolutely yes. The Cowboys have countered that they love what both do and that Pollard has a limit physically to what he can do.
But that sort of went out the window in last week's loss to Green Bay with Elliott out hurt. Pollard ran the ball 22 times for 115 yards and a TD, also catching three passes. And even with Elliott back this week, Pollard still had 21 touches to Ellott's 16. Pollard's six catches tied his career high, and his 109 receiving yards smashed his previous high (63).
Prescott appears to enjoy having both in the backfield.
"Yeah, they're dynamic," Prescott said. "Obviously when you have them both out there, defense doesn't know what's coming at them. Just for TP to have two touchdowns out of the backfield and receiving, Zeke to have a couple rushing. It's just impressive. Those two guys can do whatever you ask them to do. They have no egos, and they're a great duo. We're blessed."
Pollard also is fine with the current arrangement of sharing the ball with Elliott.
"That's something that we've got to keep going all year," Pollard said. "Just keeping us fresh in the game, you know, rotating. Just keeping the defense guessing. Just keeping them on their toes."
It'll be a quick turnaround for the Cowboys, who host the New York Giants on Thanksgiving. Pollard isn't worried about being worn down for Thursday's game.
"It's not really hard," he said. "[You're] playing Thanksgiving. National television. Everybody going to be watching, so it's really you have to keep yourself calm until the moment."
If Pollard has another big game Thursday, the excuses to not get him the ball more often might be all but gone.