DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys proved again they could run the ball effectively Sunday afternoon.
They just couldn’t run out the clock.
The Cowboys abandoned what had been a stout ground game in the second half of an epic meltdown to the Green Bay Packers. Plenty of questions were raised in the aftermath of the 37-36 loss, with few answers.
“At different times in the second half we probably could have run the ball more,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett admitted.
Murray was a workhorse in the first half, carrying the ball 11 times for 93 yards as the Cowboys took a 26-3 lead into the break. A healthy average of 8.5 yards per attempt, plus a 23-point spread, should have made for a second half of feeding Murray the ball.
Instead, the third-year back was given the ball only seven times over the final two quarters. Four of those attempts came on Dallas’ first drive of the second half.
Murray, the only back to carry the ball Sunday for the Cowboys, got just three more touches on the ground the rest of the game. Two came on Dallas’ touchdown drive early in the fourth period.
“We decided to be a little more aggressive and felt it was the right approach with the way the game was going,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “It’s easy to look back now and say run the ball, run the ball, run the ball.”
Romo said the lack of Murray in the second half had more to do with Green Bay’s determination to stop the run with nine men in the box than a change in offensive philosophy. Romo threw the ball 21 times after halftime.
“We didn’t run a ton against stacked boxes,” Romo said. “I don’t think any team is going to have a ton of success [against stacked boxes]. They are going to run sometimes.
“But they switched up defenses once we got up pretty good. That’s also why we were able to move the ball during the game.”
The Cowboys shied away from Murray despite his strong first half and play of late. The Oklahoma product had averaged 96 yards per game over the previous four games.
Murray finished with 134 yards against Green Bay, including a 1-yard touchdown to put Dallas up 26-3 in the last minute of the first half. He has 977 yards on the season and needs just 23 yards over the final two weeks to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career.
Murray, like many of his teammates, didn’t answer questions in the locker room after the game.
He apparently needed to run.