The Cowboys rushed for fewer than 100 yards in only three of 18 games last season, including the playoffs, as DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing. They had 92 rushing yards against Arizona, 93 against Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day and 73 against the Lions in the wild-card round.
Their running back by committee gained 80 yards on 23 carries against the Giants on Sunday, counting a 1-yard loss on a rush by Tony Romo.
The Cowboys, though, left AT&T Stadium feeling OK about the way they ran the ball.
“I thought when we ran the ball, it was efficient,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “We’d like to pop a few long runs. But I didn’t think that our running game was a concern at all. There were some things that were there. It was just a weird game. We had a couple of drives that seemed normal, and then we were in a two-minute drill.”
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The combination of Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar showed that it has the ability to replace Murray’s production, although the Cowboys were hesitant to give it to them in goal-line situations.
But the Cowboys continued to be a smash-mouth team with the running game. Randle, who started, led the rushers with 65 yards on 16 carries, followed by McFadden with six carries for 16 yards.
“We definitely felt like we were doing a great job out there,” McFadden said. “We didn’t have any big runs or anything, but we definitely had some positive ones. We kept some drives alive.”
Romo threw more times (45) than he did in any game last season, with Dunbar contributing eight catches for 70 yards. Part of that was simply what the game dictated with the Cowboys needing quick scores to overcome a double-digit deficit in the second half.
Christine Michael will help once he becomes more comfortable with the offense. The Cowboys acquired the former Texas A&M player on Sept. 6, but he was inactive for the season opener.