Vikings at Cowboys: Who Wins the Rushing Duel between Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook?

Mike Fisher

ARLINGTON - Ezekiel Elliott didn't spend this week discussing attempting to conquer NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook; the Dallas Cowboys two-time rushing champ was having too much fun discussing having conquered his 7-year-old self.

“My first time doing the Oklahoma drill,'' Zeke recalled back to his youth-league days in suburban St. Louis, "I was trying to run high. And the guy hit me and knocked the wind out of me. I was crying.

"And ever since then, I run with my pads down.”

There is no argument against Elliott's punishing running style - or the punishment being meted out by his offensive line, which he calls a collection of "gritty, super-talented dudes.”

“When you hear the other team getting disappointed in themselves because literally they can’t do anything to stop you, that takes a toll on them physically and mentally,” Elliott said, speaking specifically about what he and the line did to get him 139 "easy'' rushing yards in last week's 37-18 win at the Giants. “It’s tough for a defense to play four quarters if you keep getting hit in the mouth every play.”

Tonight, a different challenge. The 6-3 Minnesota Vikings defense is far more accomplished than New York's ... and Vikings running back Cook is catching up to Elliott in terms of accomplishments. He's the NFL’s leading rusher in Cook with 894 yards. Elliott, in one less game, is just 153 behind.

Maybe as a show of respect to Elliott, Cook talks of wanting to out-duel Zeke.

“I’m trying to out-rush him, and I know he’s trying to do the same thing,” Cook said.

But actually ... no. The 5-3 Cowboys lead the NFC East but have little margin for error and little room for personal goals. Oh, sure, to become the rare modern-era three-time NFL rushing champ would be lovely.

But, Elliott said, “I don’t think it’s really that important. Like, we love it, but it’s like, if it happens, it happens. What’s important to us is the Super Bowl, you know what I mean? Everything else will handle itself along the way.”

"Along the way'' continues tonight here at AT&T Stadium.

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