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News » Choice warms up frigid day Rookie running back accounts for 166 yards of offense in first start

Choice warms up frigid day Rookie running back accounts for 166 yards of offense in first start

Choice warms up frigid day Rookie running back accounts for 166 yards of offense in first start
PITTSBURGH - Given the role of his young career Sunday, Tashard Choice shined.

He rushed for 88 yards and piled up 166 yards of total offense. He made none other than Pittsburgh Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu look foolish by spinning away and dashing for the sidelines to turn a swing pass into a huge 50-yard third-quarter reception.

And this was his reaction: Pained groans; repeated pained groans.

After all, a loss is still a loss.

"What I did doesn't really mean anything," Choice said between a couple of those groans after the loss to Pittsburgh. "It means the coaches understand what I can do, but losing takes it all out of you. All I wanted to do was win the game."

Choice stepped into the empty orthotics of Marion Barber, whose dislocated left little toe forced him out of the lineup. Choice became the first rookie to start at running back for Dallas since Barber rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona on Oct. 30, 2005.

So, Choice's numbers weren't quite as impressive as Barber's. Then again, the Steelers aren't exactly the vintage Cardinals, either.

Against the NFL's top-ranked defense, Choice stumbled at the start as did the entire Cowboys offense. While the offense never defrosted, Choice did warm up.

Choice took a short pass from Tony Romo late in the first quarter and turned it into a 12-yard gain. Over the final 46 minutes, the Cowboys had 249 yards of offense; Choice accounted for 151 of them.

It's not the first time in his life Choice has stepped into a starter's role and provided a spark. After transferring from Oklahoma to Georgia Tech, Choice ran for 89 yards to lead the Yellow Jackets to an upset over third-ranked Miami in 2005. His performance over the next two seasons led to the Cowboys selecting him in the fourth round in April.

"You lose a Marion Barber, and he [Choice] stepped in and there wasn't any difference," owner/general manager Jerry Jones said.

Choice got the Cowboys started on a game-tying drive to end the first half with a 10-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.

After switching to shorter cleats to improve his footing, he put the Cowboys in position for the go-ahead touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter with four carries for 36 yards. On the next drive, he took a swing pass from Romo, made a quick move to evade Polamalu and Ike Taylor and darted 50 yards along the sidelines to the Pittsburgh 10. It set up a Nick Folk field goal.

Ground to a halt

Cowboys rookie Tashard Choice gained more rushing yards against Pittsburgh than any other player this season. The leading rusher in each of the Steelers' games:

Player, team Att. Yds TDs

Steve Slaton, Hou 13 43 0

Jamal Lewis, Cle 19 38 0

Correll Buckhalter, Phi 10 43 0

Le'Ron McClain, Bal 16 63 1

Fred Taylor, Jac 10 19 0

Cedric Benson, Cin 15 52 0

Brandon Jacobs, NYG 18 47 0

Clinton Portis, Was 13 51 0

Joseph Addai, Ind 12 34 0

LaDainian Tomlinson, SD 18 57 1

Cedric Benson, Cin 16 35 0

Kevin Faulk, NE 6 73 0

Tashard Choice, Dal 23 88 0

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 10, 2008

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