The Cowboys knew that when they drafted DeMarco Murray in the third round they got a bargain. So far in this young 2011 season, Murray had not had a chance to show why the Cowboys regarded him so high. That is, until today. Murray led the Cowboys to an expected romp of the St. Louis Rams 34-7.
Murray and the Cowboys took advantage of the worst rushing defense in the league on their way to a, NFL season high, 294 yards rushing. Murray accounted for 253 of those rushing yards, breaking the old team record held by Emmitt Smith (237, Oct 31, 1993), and scored a touchdown. Murray was off to a good start when he took a Romo delayed handoff for a 91-yard touchdown. The run set the tone for Murray’s afternoon. He demonstrated a non-stop motor and the toughness that many saw when he was at Oklahoma.
Murray would have broken Smith’s record on a 43-yard scamper that could have gone the distance but he went down on his own, in what looked like an injury. Murray pulled up awkwardly as three Rams were getting close, he then hit the turf protecting the football. He was two yards short, but returned later in the fourth quarter to significantly pass Smith’s mark.
Overlooked in the Cowboys victory was that undrafted free-agent RB Phillip Tanner also got his first professional carries (6 for 34 yards) and scored his first touchdown. Tanner, giving Murray a breather, took an off-tackle handoff and powered his way to the goal-line. He stretched the ball over the line as he hit the ground giving Dallas a commanding 27-7 lead.
Tony Romo had a quiet game for Dallas, only making noise when he had too. Romo finished with 166 yards passing and 2 touchdowns (Witten and Bryant). Wideout Dez Bryant led the Cowboys with 5 catches for 90 yards and a score.
While the Cowboys seemed dominant, the Rams appeared out of the game from the very beginning. Entering the game without their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, the Rams looked uninspired and flat, despite the acquisition of speedster, Brandon Lloyd. The Rams only offense came from RB Stephen Jackson who ripped off a 40-yard run that setup his 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
The Cowboys defense held the Rams scoreless for the rest of the game, including a nice goaline stand in the fourth quarter. Rams backup QB A.J. Feeley played better than many expected but the Cowboys defense was too much for him as he accounted for the Rams two turnovers. Lloyd was clearly Feely’s favorite target on the day, finishing with 6 receptions for 74 yards.
The Rams were just what the doctor ordered for a Cowboys team that, up to this point, were unable to run the ball and hold a lead. The game was never in doubt and the Cowboys will look to build on this as they head to hated rival Philadelphia next week for a tilt with the Eagles.