After seven seasons of rising to the occasion of hometown cheers, Elliott will be behind enemy lines as he looks to help his current team score an upset at AT&T Stadium. As emotional as the start of the game will be, it will be a sweet day if the Patriots get a win, with Elliott playing a massive role in that win.
Patriots vs Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott can be the Zeke of old...for a game
With the Patriots’ offense still trying to find an identity and consistency, the running game led by Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson will be key to keeping Micah Parsons and that Cowboys defense in check. An effective running game will also help keep Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense off the field as well. Although Elliott is not the Elliott he was earlier in his career when he was the center of that Cowboys’ offense, he still has impactful games left in him.
He showed a little bit of that in Week 3 vs. the New York Jets when he rushed for 80 yards, showing some power and burst last in that game. That is what the Patriots need from Elliott. But, once in a while, they will take a turn-back-the-clock type of game from the veteran running back, and why not Sunday vs. his former team?
It would be sweet, wouldn’t it?
Speaking of Zeke’s return to Dallas, the Cowboys’ organization still has love for Elliott, who was an important part of the community. Several players and coaches have expressed appreciation for the former Cowboys star, including the player who replaced him.
“He’s had a great influence on me playing this game,” Tony Pollard said this week, via ESPN. “Just watching him, just watching how he does things, how he approaches things, his preparation throughout the week, his film study and things like that. Just trying to pick his brain, growing with him over time.”
While players like Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb share that same sentiment, they also realize Elliott can still impact a game, and so does Elliott himself. But, in returning to where he made his career, the Patriots running back will try not to be led by emotion, although he admits it will be hard.
"It's gonna be a little bit interesting, a little bit different, going against guys that I played with for so long, but I'm not really trying to focus so much on that," he said, per the team’s website. "I'm trying to focus on going out and winning the football game. … I don't really have a lot of time to be emotional. I have to prepare for the game and go out there and put my best foot forward. But there are emotions.
"I may do a good job of hiding them. There will be some emotions, but I've gotta go out there and perform."
With the Dallas defense coming off a game in which they gave up 222 yards on the ground against the Arizona Cardinals, the Patriots' approach will be to attack with Stevenson and Elliott. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done, given the Patriots' struggles along the offensive line. But, in an emotional game like this, Ezekiel Elliot will find a way to be effective.
He has too, the New England Patriots have to if they hope to win a game not many people have picked them to win.
It’s game day.