Cowboys’ running game stuck in neutral, even with Murray’s return

Posted Sunday, Nov. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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DeMarco Murray’s return was supposed to bring back the Cowboys’ running game. But Dallas had only nine rushes for 36 yards, calling for passes on 54 plays.

The Cowboys had five carries for 31 yards in the first half and four carries for 5 yards in the second.

Murray, who missed the past two games and most of the Washington game with a knee injury, had four carries for 31 yards. He had only one carry for no yards in the second half.

“You’d certainly like to have more balance than that, obviously,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll keep striving for that. We did run the ball a little bit fairly well early on. DeMarco looked like he was going to have a good day, but as it wore on there were some minus runs that happened that got us behind the sticks a little bit. It was hard for us to get into rhythm.

“So, when you step back from it and you look at it and say, ‘Boy, we need to run it more.’ I do think with both of those situations at the end of the ballgame, sometimes it gets skewed. We really were in two-minute situations on consecutive drives.

“So oftentimes when you look at the stat sheet, when you throw it the last 18 times in a game, because of what the game situation is, that can skew those numbers. But having said all that, we need to run it more.”

Linebacker shuffle

Ernie Sims made his second start of the season in place of Bruce Carter, and it didn’t go too well. Sims had a couple of rough series in trying to contain Adrian Peterson and the Vikings’ running game.

Sims and Carter were alternating series most of the game, and it’s not too surprising Sims got the start. Garrett praised Sims earlier in the week for his work ethic, while Carter has gone through an up-and-down season.

“Ernie got the start, and Ernie played a lot in this ballgame, but Bruce got his chances and he made some plays in this game,” Garrett said.

Sims finished with three tackles, while Carter had six.

Injury news

The blows to the defensive line continue for the Cowboys. Jason Hatcher left with a stinger in the second half and did not return. Nick Hayden was in and out with back spasms. Marvin Austin exited in the first half with a back injury.

Hatcher suffered a stinger, a compressed nerve, in the Denver game on Oct. 6, though he said Sunday’s was worse. Hatcher said it wouldn’t keep him out next week at New Orleans.

“I’ll be OK,” he said. “During the season, you can never let them fully heal. So once you get hit on it, it’s going to keep coming back. So it’s just one of those things you’ve got to manage and protect.”

Laying a lick

Punters aren’t known for their tackles, but Chris Jones made a nice play on Vikings returner Marcus Sherels in the first quarter.

Sherels found an opening and was looking to go the distance, but Jones wrapped him up after 26 yards.

“I think he probably expected me to break down and shuffle,” Jones said. “We kind of closed on each other so fast that it was kind of one of those go-for-it [deals] and it worked out.”

Briefly

• The Cowboys were without four starters — receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety J.J. Wilcox and defensive end DeMarcus Ware.

• Selena Gomez will be the halftime performer for the Salvation Army “Red Kettle Campaign” on Thanksgiving Day.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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