While quarterback Dak Prescott is clearly the Dallas Cowboys' most valuable player, no player is more valuable to their offense than running back Tony Pollard. His 5.9 yards per scrimmage touch in the regular season led all running backs who had at least 100 touches, and the Cowboys missed his versatility out of the backfield after he was carted off just before the end of the first half of their divisional round matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Dallas entered the locker room trailing, 9-6, after San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould hit a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. Their offense struggled without him in the second half as Dallas went on to lose 19-12.
Pollard suffered a lower leg injury that looked very similar to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' in Saturday's AFC division round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mahomes was earlier Sunday, and like Mahomes, it was officially confirmed that Pollard also suffered a high-ankle sprain. However, unlike the Chiefs quarterback, he did not return to the game in the second half. The fourth-year running back totaled 33 yards from scrimmage on eight first-half touches (six carries and two catches). Following more examination, Pollard suffered a fractured left fibula that will require surgery, according to ESPN. That's a procedure that usually requires a three months of recovery and rehabilitation.
Entering Sunday, the Cowboys averaged 5.8 yards per play with Tony Pollard on the field and 5.1 yards with him on the sidelines. That gap is the difference between the seventh-best and 24th-best offenses in the NFL this season. The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for Pollard personally, as the 25-year-old former fourth round pick is set to hit free agency this upcoming offseason.