The optics that resonated from Ezekiel Elliott’s lack of effort in chasing down defenders on a pair of interceptions painted a significantly worse picture than that of his career-worst eight-yard rushing performance. The 2016 NFL rushing leader aims to brush off that unattractive look on Monday as the Dallas Cowboys pay a visit to the Arizona Cardinals.
“I would say I was just very frustrated, but that’s no excuse for the lack of effort I showed on tape,” said Elliott, who was shown with hands on hips and walking in the other direction on one interception while remaining on the ground on another in Dallas’ 42-17 loss to Denver last week. Elliott’s lack of rushing (from scrimmage) played a significant role in Dak Prescott attempting a career-high 50 passes last week. While the Cowboys struggled on the road last week, the Cardinals are embracing the idea of playing their first home game since a preseason tilt on Aug. 19. “It seemed longer than that, too, but it’s just good that we finally get a chance to play in front of our home crowd, on our grass. ... It’s been a long four weeks, no doubt,” Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Cowboys -3. O/U: 47
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (1-1): Tight end Jason Witten has been the primary beneficiary of Prescott’s penchant to air it out this season, with the Dallas quarterback’s 89 pass attempts trailing only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (92). The 35-year-old Witten leads the NFL with 17 receptions through two games and his two receiving scores are tied for second best in the league. Dez Bryant found the end zone last week and scored in each of his last two encounters with Arizona, although the wideout is expected to be shadowed throughout Monday’s game by All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson. Orlando Scandrick is on pace to return after a one-game absence because of a broken left hand, perhaps just in time as fellow cornerback Nolan Carroll remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (1-1): Perhaps the comforts of home will alter the fortunes of Palmer, who has thrown just two touchdowns against four interceptions this season and is coming off being sacked four times in Arizona’s 16-13 overtime win over Indianapolis. J.J. Nelson stepped up versus the Colts, reeling in five catches for 120 yards with a touchdown en route to being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. The need for production from the Cardinals’ passing game is underscored by the loss of the versatile David Johnson in the season opener. Veteran Chris Johnson, who showed a burst with 11 carries for 44 yards last week, is expected to receive a bigger workload at the expense of fellow running back Kerwynn Williams.
1. With 97 receiving yards, Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald would pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (14,580) for the eighth-most in NFL history.
2. Dallas DE Demarcus Lawrence, who has a league best-tying four sacks, collected two and forced a fumble last week.
3. Cardinals LB Karlos Dansby, who had a team-high 10 tackles last week, has recorded at least seven-plus tackles in each of his last four games.
PREDICTION: Cowboys 24, Cardinals 14