After setting a team record for the fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season a year ago, the Dallas Cowboys vowed to run it more and run it better in 2013.
Instead, they have run it less and run it worse.
“We’re going to look at it again this week and see how we can do it better and running it from the different personnel groups and running it when it’s hard to run it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “When they put an extra guy down, we’re still figuring out a way. We have to make sure we get that guy blocked or we run away from that guy, or we control the line of scrimmage more. The hard thing is when you have negative runs.
“Having said that, it’s about us putting a really good plan together. It’s about the players executing that plan and us putting them in a position where they can execute it and going out and doing it.”
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The Cowboys set a new low Sunday with their nine rushing attempts, breaking a franchise record. And one of those was a Tony Romo scramble.
The Cowboys’ previous fewest rushing attempts in a game had been 10 against New Orleans in 1989.
Dallas lined up in the shotgun on 50 of its 63 plays.
“We just didn’t get it done, and we’ve got to do that,” Garrett said. “We have to be more balanced. We have to give the running game more of an opportunity to get going. We have to run it better.
“I think in some ways, the running game numbers were skewed. In the minimum number of attempts that we had, we did have a 27-yard run in there. We weren’t as efficient as we needed to be — too many tackles for loss in a limited number of opportunities. But we have to be more patient with it. We have to strive for balance.”
DeMarco Murray returned from a knee sprain after missing the past two games and most of the Washington game. Though he had a 27-yard run, which helped him average 7.8 yards per attempt, Murray got only four attempts. That included only one in the second half.
“I thought for the most part when I was given the opportunity, I thought I did well,” Murray said Monday. “Obviously, I’m not in control of that, so I’ve got to continue to worry about myself and control what I can control. The most important thing is we got the win, so at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
The Cowboys had only 36 rushing yards, with one attempt going for 27 yards and the other eight for 9 yards.
Three of the Cowboys’ nine rushing attempts were negative runs, and Murray’s only second-half attempt was for no yards.
But Murray would have liked more opportunities against a defense that entered the game ranked 21st against the run, allowing 113.7 rushing yards per game.
“There were definitely some opportunities to run it out there, but it just didn’t go that way,” Murray said.
The Cowboys haven’t gone that way much this season.
Through nine games last season, the Cowboys had 212 attempts for 768 yards. That’s an average of 23.6 attempts per game for an average of 85.3 yards per game. They ran it 36.4 percent of the time in that span, including scrambles by Romo.
New play caller Bill Callahan was supposed to remedy that this season.
But the Cowboys have 183 attempts for 681 yards on the ground this season. That’s an average of 20.6 attempts per game and 75.7 rushing yards per game. They have run it 33.4 percent of the time, including Romo scrambles.
“Bill wants to run the football. Bill wants to be balanced,” Garrett said. “Bill understands the importance of being balanced like we all do. We have to do just a better job putting it together and making sure we implement it on Sunday and making sure those runs we’re calling can be effective for us. Bill gets that, and the better we run the football, the more we’ll run the football.”