DeMarco Murray downplayed his accomplishments all season, but assistant coach Scott Linehan wouldn’t play along Saturday night.
During a meeting at the team hotel, the Dallas Cowboys play-caller highlighted the significance of the single-season rushing record.
“He needed to know and everybody in that room needed to know — our whole team and the offense — we all took pride in that,” Linehan said. “From the day we started training camp, it was a big thing. We were going to commit to running the football. He obviously was going to be a big part of that.
“For everybody to be all in on that was great. I think everybody took a lot of pride in him getting that record.”
Murray rushed for 100 yards in the Cowboys’ 44-17 victory over the Washington Redskins, giving him 1,845 for the season. Emmitt Smith held the previous mark, with 1,773 yards in 1995.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” Smith said in a statement. “He is very deserving of this recognition. This is something that I know DeMarco will share with the whole team, because he knows that they all had a hand in his success.
“I am proud of him, because I know how hard it is to do what he did this year. I am also proud because I’ve watched him bounce back from some injury setbacks in his first few years. He’s worked through all that, and he deserves to have this record. I want him and the whole team to keep up this level of play and carry it into the playoffs.”
Murray and Dez Bryant broke team records on back-to-back plays in the first quarter.
Murray’s 32-yard run gave him the single-season rushing mark. On the next play, Bryant scored his second touchdown of the day and his 16th of the season, breaking Terrell Owens’ team record. Owens had 15 touchdown catches in 2007.
“Just two remarkable young players,” tight end Jason Witten said. “As a teammate, as a leader, as kind of a veteran guy, you take a lot of pride in seeing their growth as players, starting with DeMarco.
“All year he knew, back in March and April, that there was going to be a commitment, and he was going to carry that load. He embraced that challenge. He did it in camp, the way he practiced. Early in the season, the question was if it was too many carries, and he just didn’t flinch. He played really well. He’s tough, dependable, runs hard and so I’m happy for him, happy for the offensive line. They were a huge part of that.
“And then Dez ... Dez is an unbelievable player. Consistent, I thought he had his best year just running good routes and being where he’s supposed to be. He’s a dynamic player ... so it’s good to see his growth.”
Bryant finished his season with 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns. He tied for ninth-most receptions in team history for a single season and tied for seventh-most yards.
“Oh man, it feels good, but that’s not what I want,” Bryant said. “We’ve worked too hard, man, and have got an opportunity to do something special. That’s on my mind. That’s what my mind is focused on.”
Murray finished with the 17th-most yards rushing in NFL history. He tied for the second-most 100-yard games in league history with 12. His 392 carries were the seventh-highest all time.
Records are made to be broken.
“It feels good, you know,” Murray said. “Obviously, a lot of people had a lot of helping hands in this — coaches, obviously the offensive line a huge factor and the tight ends, quarterbacks, receivers, fullbacks. It’s an honor for us to take the record, and we’re excited about it.”
For the first time in his career, Murray played all 16 games. He gutted out the past two games, playing with a fractured bone in his left hand that required surgery.
“I love this game, and you try to do whatever you can do to help your team win, so those kinds of things you really don’t have much control over, and I’m proud and definitely appreciative of playing the games and helping us win,” Murray said.
The record that Murray and Bryant are most proud of is their team record. The Cowboys’ 12-4 mark has them in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Now, they are after more than their names in a record book.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760