ARLINGTON (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott said he didn’t even know if he was playing for the Dallas Cowboys against Kansas City after a late legal reprieve stopped the star running back’s six-game suspension for the third time.
Now it’s time for another week of legal limbo after Elliott rushed for 93 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in a 28-17 victory against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Elliott said he threw on a sweatshirt and headed for the team’s practice facility Friday morning when he got the word that a New York appeals court had issued an emergency stay of the NFL’s suspension over domestic violence allegations.
Last year’s NFL rushing leader as a rookie didn’t have a run longer than 11 yards. But he outgained the Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt, this year’s dynamic rookie and the league rushing leader going into the game.
“There was a little rust, I’m not going to lie,” said Elliott, who was suspended for the first two practice days last week. “So I came in Friday, practiced and studied all day Friday, watched a lot of film. On Saturday, just tried to catch up on this team and catch up for what I lost.”
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could hold a hearing this week on a longer-lasting injunction that could keep the suspension on hold while attorneys once again argue the case. If Elliott loses, his legal options could be near an end.
Elliott’s legal team believes he was treated unfairly by the NFL, while league attorneys say a labor deal backed by federal law was followed when Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Elliott after a yearlong investigation.
A New York federal judge ruled for the NFL early last week before the appeals court stepped in to allow time for more arguments. The NFL eventually won in the same jurisdiction when New England quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games in the Deflategate case.
“Leaning on the people that care about me the most,” said Elliott, who has 783 yards and seven touchdowns at the halfway point. “Trusting that they are going to do a good job and do everything they can to see me on the field. This team and ownership have supported me to the fullest.”
Things to consider after the Cowboys (5-3) stopped a nine-game road winning streak by the Chiefs (6-3), tied for the longest in franchise history:
COMING AROUND: The Cowboys played perhaps their best defensive game of the season considering they were facing the NFL’s third-ranked offense. They got over the shock of Tyreek Hill’s 56-yard catch-and-runwith the clock expired in the first half, shutting down Kansas City after giving up the Chiefs’ other TD to start the second half.
Defending NFC champion Atlanta is next, with the Falcons trying to answer a 1-4 slide since a 3-0 start. “I think we’re starting to get close to the type of defense we want to be,” 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee said.
STALLED RUN GAME: With their upcoming bye, the Chiefs have the task of re-establishing Hunt. He had his fourth straight sub-100-yard game, and three of them have been under 50. Hunt doesn’t have a touchdown since scoring six (four rushing, two receiving) in the first three games.
BRYANT’S ANKLE: Dallas receiver Dez Bryant sprained an ankle after getting a game-high 11 targets with six catches for 73 yards. If he’s out, Terrance Williams will have to slide into the No. 1 slot, which has been a struggle for him when Bryant has been injured. At least Williams has some momentum with his first 100-yard game of the season against the Chiefs, finishing with a career-high nine catches for 141 yards.
HALI’S RETURN: Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali played briefly after spending the entire season on the physically unable to perform list dealing with knee issues. “There’s no other way at this time of year of getting good, accurate reps other than playing,” coach Andy Reid said.
The Chiefs only sacked Prescott once, but will be hoping for more depth with their pass rush with Dee Ford having an extra week to recover from back issues. Ford missed his third game of the season. Kansas City visits the one-win New York Giants in two weeks.
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