Arlington -- It was supposed to be the Cowboys stiffest test yet, against a perennial playoff team featuring a stout front seven, led by Bengals pro bowl defensive lineman Geno Atkins.
What it turned out to be was an early round knockout from a Cowboys offensive line that dominated from the first snap.
"It was as fine a first half as I can ever remember," gushed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Six of seven plays on the Cowboys first touchdown drive were runs, including the first rushing touchdown the Bengals have surrendered all season; the first of three on the day.
"We had to dominate the line of scrimmage," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, "we had to come off the ball and hit 'em and be able to run the ball in different ways."
The Cowboys offensive line was fully aware of the forthcoming examination. The coaching staff made sure they knew they'd have to answer all the tough questions.
"We always go through our opening scripts," said offensive lineman Zack Martin, "we had a lot of run plays on there. And we knew if we could execute and get it going early, we could get them on the ropes. And that's what we were able to do."
Elliott's 134 yards make him the only Cowboys running back in team history with 3 consecutive games rushing for more than 130 yards. He is just the third rookie in NFL history to pull off that feat.
Elliott ups his league-leading rushing total to 546 yards, which is also a new Cowboys rookie record through 5 games. And he's still learning the offense.
"I just came from a different type of system and I wasn't necessarily comfortable," said Elliott. "I really didn't have enough reps going into the first game so every week we've been working seeing what I need to get better at."
And the improvement is evident. And now he has a home-run on his resume, as well. His 60-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, the kind of instant game-changing play you'd expect from the fourth overall pick.
"It looked beautiful," said Elliott of the hole that opened up on the long touchdown run, "running backs love runs when they don't get touched. All I had to do was turn the jets on."
And for an offensive line that was up for the fight, the big gainer was a heck of a knockout punch.
"You know it's the one thing we've missed the last couple weeks," said Martin. "We've run it good, but we hadn't had that big run. You know Zeke showed that breakaway speed and that was great."