Running the Ball: Who Has the Edge?
Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense
Dallas rediscovered their ground game in the middle of the season and that proved to be a major boost for an offense that has struggled to put points on the board at times this season. The Cowboys have run for at least 100 yards in nine of their games this season with three other games seeing them put up 99, 94 and 98 yards, respectively. It will be interesting to see if Dallas tries to match Seattle’s penchant to pound the ball or if they’ll try a different tack. The Cowboys have run the ball 104 times for 385 yards and two scores in the last four games. In that span, Dallas saw their rushing total drop from 142 yards to 112 to 80 to 51 against the Giants. In the wild card game, the Cowboys got back on track as they ran the ball 34 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
Ezekiel Elliott is the team’s leading ground gainer with 304 carries for 1,434 yards and six scores. Prescott is next in line as he has run the ball 75 times for 305 yards and six touchdowns. Tavon Austin (six carries, 55 yards) and Rod Smith (44 carries, 127 yards, TD) are next in line. Dallas has 12 runs of at least 20 yards this season with Elliott accounting for 11 of them. The Cowboys have moved the sticks on the ground 113 times this season. Elliott led the league in rushing for the second time in three years and added 26 carries for 137 yards plus a touchdown in the wild card round.
Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense
Los Angeles was a lot like Kansas City in the regard that their offense tended to pile up big point totals. That meant that the opposition had to give up on the run game, usually more often than they would have liked. The problem for Los Angeles was that they sent out personnel packages to defend the pass and ended up getting gashed on the ground. A lot of them were empty yards but the Rams did allow at least 100 yards on the ground in 11 of their 16 games, including each of their last five. Three times, the Rams allowed at least 190 yards on the ground. Over the last month of the season, Los Angeles gave up 134 yards per game, 5.1 yards per carry and four scores on the ground
Linebacker Cory Littleton led the team in the regular season with 125 tackles (90 solo), along with five tackles for loss. Mark Barron (60 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble), along with defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh (59 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries), Michael Brockers (54 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) and Aaron Donald (59 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries) are forces to be reckoned with in the front seven. Los Angeles allowed the opponents 17 runs of at least 20 yards and 101 first downs via the ground game this season.
Notable Rushing Statistics
Dallas Cowboys Offense
- 10th in rushing attempts per game (27.4)
- 10th in rushing yards per game (122.7)
- Tied for 12th in yards per carry (4.5)
- Tied for 16th in rushing TD (13)
- Tied for 27th in longest rush (41 yards)
Los Angeles Rams Defense
- 12th in percentage of run plays against (40.21)
- 9th in run plays per game against (24.1)
- 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game (122.3)
- 32nd in opposing yards per carry (5.1)
- Tied for 10th in rushing TD allowed (12)
- Tied for 12th in longest rush allowed (51 yards)