Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott: 2021 Season Was 'Most Frustrating' Due to Playoff Failure

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 2, 2022

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during pregame warm-ups prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott dealt with an injury throughout the 2021 season, but he focused on the team when asked if last year was frustrating.

"I'd say, if anything, it was the most frustrating just because we had a great year and then we didn't do what we needed to do once we got to the playoffs," he told reporters. "So that was the frustrating part."

The Cowboys looked the part of legitimate Super Bowl contenders as NFC East champions with a 12-5 record, but a 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Game ended their season.

It was the finish of the game that stood out the most in the aftermath, as Dallas had the ball trailing by six with no timeouts remaining and 14 seconds left when it designed a run for quarterback Dak Prescott.

That proved to be the team's final snap, as the official who was trailing the play ran over Prescott while trying to catch up. The clock expired, and the game was called amid plenty of confusion and a livid Dallas crowd.

While the crowd was not happy with the officials, the Cowboys also managed just 17 points. Elliott was part of the issue with a mere 31 rushing yards, although he revealed after the loss that he played the season with a partially torn PCL.

He didn't look nearly as explosive as he did when leading the league in rushing yards in 2016 and 2018 and managed just 4.2 yards per carry during the season. There were times when the offense seemed to operate even better when backup running back Tony Pollard was in the game.

Yet Elliott is also just 26 years old with a resume that includes three Pro Bowls, an All-Pro selection and four years with more than 1,000 rushing yards. If he is healthy again in 2022, he figures to bounce back and once again be considered one of the best running backs in the league.

That would also help the Cowboys avoid a frustrating playoff at the end of the season.