Cowboys' offense gets immediate boost with return of Murray

Posted Monday, Dec. 03, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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IRVING -- The good news: DeMarco Murray returned to the lineup Sunday. The better news: His sprained left foot still isn't 100 percent, so he could be even better in the coming weeks.

Murray was out six weeks before rejoining the Cowboys with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The second-year running back looked like he hadn't missed a beat, though he felt like he had.

"I think I was off a little bit," Murray said after Sunday's 38-33 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. "There were some times I felt good, and some times I could tell I'd been off for six weeks without full contact. I'm back, and we'll see next week. Hopefully, I'll be better next week."

The Cowboys had been running nowhere without Murray. In the six games Murray missed, Dallas gained only 368 rushing yards on 123 carries, an average of 20.5 rushes per game, 61.3 rushing yards per game and an average of 2.99 yards per carry.

The Cowboys had almost as many carries in the first quarter Sunday (seven) as they had in the Washington game a week earlier (11), and they ended up with their second-most carries of the season and their fourth 100-yard game.

The Cowboys had 33 running plays and 27 passing plays, only the second time all season they have run more than they have passed. They had 123 yards on the ground to go with 303 passing yards as the offense bailed out the defense.

They would have had even more rushing yards, but Murray lost 11 yards on a third-and-9 with the Cowboys trying to run out the clock in the waning seconds.

"We feel like we ran the ball consistently well throughout the ball game, and that allowed us to do some of the other things that we want to do," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

"The play-action game was better, and I thought we threw the ball really efficiently throughout the game, and we also made some big plays in the passing game. When you have that kind of balance between run and pass and are able to do things a lot of different ways, you can attack the defense different ways, and that's good for you."

The Cowboys now are averaging 23.1 carries per game for 82.4 yards per game. They no longer are the worst rushing team in the league, having run by Arizona and Jacksonville.

Murray was that much of a difference-maker.

"It was good to have DeMarco back," center Ryan Cook said Monday. "I think he made a positive influence on us."

Murray ended up with 25 total touches, and Garrett said the running back came out of the game without a setback.

"I really thought he handled the rigors of that game well," Garrett said. "He ... didn't seem to have any problems either with the injuries or with the conditioning. We wanted to make sure we had eyes on him."

Murray, who has regained the team rushing lead with 413 yards, won't get his first 1,000-yard season. He just hopes to get to 100 percent before the end of the season.

"It's not 100 percent," Murray said. "There were a couple of times [in the game] that it got tweaked."

Charean Williams,


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