Ezekiel Elliot Has More Fumbles Than the NFL's Top 10 Running Backs Combined

With Dak Prescott sidelined with a season-ending injury, Ezekiel Elliott was supposed to shoulder the offensive burden for the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, the star running back was left shouldering the blame for another dismal defeat, as the Cowboys fell to 2-4 for the season following a 38-10 loss at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

Elliott's fumbles on back-to-back drives in the second quarter resulted in two Arizona touchdowns as the Cardinals scored 21 unanswered points following a scoreless first quarter.

The Cowboys star running back has struggled to hold onto the ball all season and has four fumbles over 133 carries through the first six weeks of the season, all of which have been turned into touchdowns by the opposing teams.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Elliott alone has one more fumble this season than the rest of the NFL's top 10 rushers combined have over 1,104 carries.

"I don't think we can use [Prescott being gone] as an excuse," Elliott told ESPN after the game.

"I'm just going to keep saying it over and over—I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off. I want to say I'm sorry and this one is on me. I need to be better."

Elliott's struggles this season are exacerbated by the fact ball protection has never been an issue for the three-time Pro Bowl selection, who entered 2020 having never lost more than two fumbles in an entire season, as per NFL Research.

The former Ohio State star, who was replaced by Tony Pollard when the Cowboys took the field following his second fumble, conceded he had to swiftly solve his personal conundrum and acknowledged opposing teams would trying to exploit his new-found weakness.

"When you're fumbling every game obviously teams are going to lock in on it and go for it even more," Elliott said. "That's even more of a reason I need to figure it out, man. I don't want to keep talking about it, but I've got to figure out a way to figure it out."

Even without the two costly fumbles, Elliott's contribution was largely negligible as he finished with 49 rushing yards on a season-low 12 carries, the sixth consecutive game he has failed to rush for at least 100 yards.

The streak is a career-worst for the NFL's leading rusher in 2016 and 2018, who had previously never gone more than five games without hitting the 100 rushing yards threshold—he failed to rush for at least 100 yards between Weeks 10 to 14 last season.

Elliott's fumbling problems are emblematic of a Cowboys offense that entered Monday Night Football as the joint-worst in the league in turnovers given up and coughed up four more against the Cardinals—Andy Dalton threw two interceptions to go with Elliott's two fumbles.

To put their struggles into context, the Cowboys have already given up 84 points off turnovers through six weeks of the season after allowing 45 points in the same scenario in the whole of last season. In other words, the Cowboys have allowed just 10 fewer points off turnovers alone than the Pittsburgh Steelers have given up as a whole this season.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 19 in Arlington, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty