When Demarco Murray left the game against the Baltimore Ravens way back in October, we figured he may miss a couple games. After he missed those couple games, we kept expecting him to return to practice. And then he missed another full week, the team simply stating they wanted him to be 100% healthy before making a return for the stretch run. And then he missed another week. And another. Until finally, even the Jones' wondered if Murray would be back this year.
Murray has been the X Factor for the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty)
Demarco finally made his triumphant return a little over a week ago against the Philadelphia Eagles. The numbers weren't overwhelming; 23 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown. But his overall presence was absolutely overwhelming. Instead of Romo dropping back 70 times, he only threw it 27 times. With no interceptions to boot.
This past Sunday, we saw another heavy dosage of Demarco Murray. He pounded away 21 times, gaining 53 yards and an over-the-top touchdown in the process. His longest run of the afternoon was only 7 yards. He averaged only 2.5 yards per carry. Sounds a lot more like the futile attack we saw while he was gone as opposed to the revamped and re-energized attack he usually possesses, right? Wrong.
Murray's not a one trick horse. So he couldn't break a long run? He caught 4 passes out of the backfield, at least a couple of them going for hard-earned first downs. He made block after block against on-coming rushers (and there were a lot of them) to try and give Romo that extra split-second he needs.
The presence of Demarco Murray changes everything about Jason Garrett's game plan. With this team down two possessions in the 4th quarter, that's when we typically begin to see Air-Romo and simply hope he can bring us back. Not this time. Murray finished with 7 carries in the 4th quarter. He was involved on the final 7 plays of the game, being either the man the Cowboys handed off to or threw the ball to. Jason Garrett trusts his workhorse, and his life is made a lot easier because of him.
The one play that everyone is talking about was the gritty, tough 6 yard run on 3rd and 5 to insure that Dallas would be able to attempt the final kick with no time left on the clock. In the box score, it only shows up as a 6 yard run. But on the field, no play was bigger for a Cowboys team that was tested more than any NFL team should be this past Sunday. The emotional display by the sideline after that run was nothing short of spectacular. They celebrated more after that play than after Bailey's FG. It is no small testament that Murray, a player who realistically is nowhere near 100% and playing behind an offensive line that would struggle in the NCAA, was able to gain those extra few inches.
But that's what he does. He gains the small amount of extra yardage that all the great backs get. Emmitt Smith used to be the king of falling forward and never losing a yard. Murray is beginning to follow in those massively large foot steps. He fights as hard as any back wearing a star since Marion Barber, but his running style is so much more sustainable. If Murray can continuously stay on the field, this Dallas Cowboys team will continue to win football games. He gives this team what it's missing, whatever that may be on that specific day.
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