DeMarco Murray praises Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson, but the magnitude of Murray’s accomplishment Sunday seemed lost in the euphoria of the Dallas Cowboys’ win.
Murray became only the third running back in NFL history with five consecutive 100-yard games to open a season, joining the Hall of Famers. He rushed for 136 yards on a career-high 31 carries in the Cowboys’ 20-17 overtime victory over the Houston Texans.
“A lot of respect for those guys,” Murray said. “Obviously, those are the pioneers of the running back position, and they did a lot of great things for the position and the NFL. A lot of respect for those guys, but I’m just trying to come out here and get wins.”
Murray ran for 118 yards against San Francisco, 167 against Tennessee, 100 against St. Louis and 149 against New Orleans before the Houston game. The league’s rushing leader, who has never had more than 1,121 yards in a season, already has 670 yards. It is the fifth-most rushing yards to start a season behind only Simpson twice (823 and 813), Brown (787) and Jamal Lewis (742).
It puts Murray on pace for 2,144 yards, 39 yards better than the NFL record held by yet another Hall of Famer, Eric Dickerson.
“He’s a damn good football player,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “The biggest things I emphasize with him is, ‘Let’s get people not talking about [the fumbles], opponents otherwise, and let’s get people talking about how good a player you are,’ because he’s having a great year for us and doing so many great things.”
Ah, the fumbles. Murray lost another in the first quarter Sunday, giving him four in five games. He had only three in his first three seasons.
“He’s playing really well,” Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. “I think he’ll tell you he needs to get better, obviously, holding onto the rock. But I think he’s going to be critical on himself. He’s going to look at himself and see how he can get better.
“He is playing well, but we’re not satisfied yet. We’ve got to keep playing and keep getting better.”
It wasn’t easy against the Texans, who entered the game 24th against the run. The Cowboys repeatedly talked about Murray’s “dirty runs” afterward.
Murray had only three carries of more than 10 yards, with a long of 17, and 14 gained fewer than 5 yards.
“He’s very productive for us,” Garrett said. “He made some big runs, made some big little runs. You know, the dirty runs that nobody’s going to talk about. I thought that was all over the tape for him. He’s a tough, physical guy, played downhill all game and did a lot of good things for us.”
Murray also caught six passes for 56 yards, giving him 37 touches for 192 yards from scrimmage. It’s why he took forever in the training room after the game, taking an ice bath and getting treatment.
“I feel good; I feel great,” Murray said.
Who wouldn’t after joining the all-time greats at his position in the record book?
Brown holds the NFL record for consecutive 100-yard games to open a season, with six in 1958. Simpson’s streaks in 1973 and ’75 stopped at five games both seasons.
The Cowboys’ game plan seems simple: See DeMarco run. Run, DeMarco, run.