Elliott, Barkley square off as Cowboys, Giants seek first win
ARLINGTON, Texas— Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley are friends from their days as foes at Ohio State and Penn State.
Now that they're set to share the field for the first time as pros, the running back of the Dallas Cowboys remembers his only college encounter with Barkley, the promising rookie of the New York Giants.
To wit, the matching hurdle plays that Elliott recalls when Barkley was a freshman for the Nittany Lions and outgained the reigning offensive MVP from the first championship game in the four-team playoff era a season earlier. Elliott's Buckeyes got the bigger
prize, a 38-10 win.
“I went out and hurdled a guy and literally the next drive he comes back and hurdles one of our guys,” Elliott said. “That was pretty cool to me just to see him come back and do the same thing.”
Just as in that scenario three years ago, Elliott is the established star after leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2016, and Barkley is the firstyear upstart. As for the bigger prize Sunday night, the NFC East rivals need the win with both coming off season-opening losses.
“We don’t worry about that,” first-year Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “That’s fun for everybody to talk about outside the building. We didn’t do enough in the first game to win the game, and we’re working to do what we can to win this next one. Period. End of story.”
It could be just the start of the Elliott-Barkley story. Friends since that night in Columbus, Ohio, after Barkley rushed for 194 yards while Elliott had 153 yards and a touchdown, they are now among the most important pieces for storied franchises trying to get back to the Super Bowl.
And each was the first running back taken in his draft: Elliott fourth overall in 2016 and Barkley at No. 2 this year.
“They’re powerfully built guys,” Shurmur said. “When I say ‘collision balance,’ in the hole, guys bouncing off, and they can keep their balance. (Elliott’s) production in his first two years had nothing to do with us selecting Saquon, but they’re similar in a lot of ways.”
■ Today's game will be the first pro meeting between the new NFC East rivals and the top running backs chosen in two of the past three drafts when Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott and New York Giants' Saquon Barkley meet.