All DeMarco Murray wanted was a chance to close out the game. He got it, though it was not the way he envisioned it.
Murray had expected to run for the game-winning touchdown after the Dallas Cowboys reached the Washington 4-yard line with 2:16 left. Instead, he had his first career receiving touchdown on a fourth-down play after failing to get in on three consecutive running plays.
“Tony [Romo] recognized what they were trying to get accomplished,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “And what you have to do in that situation is buy a little time because there’s not very many holes in the zone initially. You have to give your guys a chance to wiggle free, and Tony was able to do that.
“DeMarco did a great job of giving him a throw and getting in the end zone.”
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Murray had his third consecutive 100-yard game, rushing for 105 on his first 21 carries. That included runs of 3 yards on first down from the Washington 4 and 1 yard on second down.
On third-and-goal from the 1, with 1:55 remaining, the Cowboys gave Murray another chance to close it out. Murray wanted that opportunity against Green Bay last week when the Cowboys gave him only seven carries in the second half despite carrying a 26-3 lead.
On the third-down running play Sunday, Murray started left only to see Redskins everywhere, including cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Murray reversed course and was tackled by linebacker Perry Riley Jr. for a 9-yard loss.
“I felt like there were three guys out there,” Murray said. “There wasn’t enough room. I should have just ate it there, and I tried to make something happen, and it didn’t go my way.”
It not only put Murray back under 100 yards but left the Cowboys with a fourth-and-goal from the 10.
“You’d prefer not to have that happen,” Romo said. “At the same time, Washington did a great job of stringing the play out, and DeMarco tried making a play. It just didn’t happen.”
The fourth time was the charm for Murray and the Cowboys. Romo bought time, giving Murray, who had initially stayed in to help right tackle Doug Free, a chance to leak into the right flat. Murray caught the pass and dove into the end zone for the game-winner with 1:08 left.
“I knew where I was on the field. I just knew I had to get another yard or so and try to get the ball in there,” Murray said.
With 1,073 yards, Murray is the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Cowboys since Julius Jones in 2006.