GAME RECAP – DeMarco Murray leads Dallas Cowboys to a 26-10 win
The Dallas Cowboys went old school in their impressive 26-10 victory over Tennessee, using a grinding rushing attack, solid specials teams and another good performance from the defense to come away with their first win of the season.
With an emphasis on running the rock early, Dallas saw DeMarco Murray post 167 rushing yards in the game on just 29 carries, an average of 5.76 yards per attempt. Overall, Dallas ran for 220 yards total, compared to just 148 passing.
Murray topped the century mark in the second quarter when the Cowboys ran the ball on 12 of their 21 plays, which led to 13 unanswered points. And, he led the charge on the team’s first touchdown of the game. Already up 3-0 and set up on the Titans’ 40-yard line after a Barry Church interception, he was handed the ball on four straight snaps. In response, he ripped off runs of 18, 6 and 13 yards before lunging the ball forward across the goal line from 3 yards out to put Dallas up 10-0.
The Cowboys then tacked on two more field goals before halftime as Bailey was good from 44 and 51 yards to stay perfect on the year, the second coming with only nine seconds left in the half after Dwayne Harris returned a punt 15 yards to give Dallas field position at the Tennessee 48-yard line.
Likewise, the Dallas defense was equally impressive through the first 30 minutes of the game, as the unit shut out the Titans while limiting them to just two first downs and 68 yards of total offense. They even produced their first turnover of the season with the pick by Church, who made a diving interception of an overthrown Jake Locker pass.
Things got interesting after the half, though, when Tennessee came out and promptly scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter with a 47-yard field goal by Ryan Succop and a big 61-yard touchdown from Locker to tight end Delanie Walker that narrowed the gap to a one possession game, 16-10.
But Dallas responded with another touchdown, this time doing their damage through the air, as Tony Romo guided the team on a 12-play 80-yard drive, he and Dez Bryant connecting five times during the series. The last was a dart to the right side of the end zone after Bryant created separation (some would say pushed off) to then haul in the pass for the score and an again-comfortable 23-10 lead.
Despite Murray getting most of the accolades, Bryant was equally as dangerous, as he finished with 103 yards receiving on 10 catches. And while Romo still didn’t always look sharp, he was definitely better than last week, managing to throw for 176 yards on 19-of-29 passing with one touchdown, and perhaps more importantly, not throwing any interceptions.
Whatever thoughts the Titans had about coming back were quashed on Tennessee’s next possession. Though the home team was driving, Henry Melton tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, which was then followed by linebacker Rolando McClain making an acrobatic catch that was originally ruled incomplete. But after head coach Jason Garrett threw the red flag, the play was overturned upon review and Dallas had the ball.
McClain’s effort led to Bailey’s fourth field goal, the Cowboys wrapping up their scoring for the day.
Through two games so far, McClain has proven a steal for the Cowboys as he led the team in tackles against the Titans and had a sack in addition to the pick. Behind his effort, Dallas limited its opponent to 314 total yards for the afternoon, punctuating the defensive effort by keeping Tennessee out of the end zone on fourth-and goal from the Dallas 6-yard line with just more than six minutes remaining.
With that, the Titans never saw the ball again, as Dallas pounded their way down the field, eating up the remainder of the clock to secure the victory and improve their record to 1-1 on the season. They’ll next travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams before returning home to face the Saints on Sept. 28.
RELATED: Murray carries Dallas Cowboys to dominant win
NASHVILLE – If his own mistake wasn’t motivation enough, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had some inspiring words for DeMarco Murray on Sunday.
Murray had just lost a fumble to the Titans on his fourth carry of the afternoon – his second lost fumble of the young season. As he returned to the sideline, Garrett quickly told his Pro Bowl running back what the gameplan would be going forward.
“I said ‘That was about the third carry of about 30 you’re going to get today. Hold onto the damn ball,’” Garrett said.
He did that, and more. In a surprisingly dominant 26-10 win, the Cowboys force fed the Titans with an unstoppable ground game that saw them finish with 223 total rushing yards on the day.
Murray accounted for a whopping 167 of those, as he carried the ball an unprecedented 29 times and scored a touchdown in the process of amending for that fumble.
“D-Mo’s a guy that always keeps his head forward,” said Travis Frederick. “It happened. You could tell he was upset when it happened, but he flipped a switch and it was on to the next play. You knew after that he wasn’t going to give it up again.”
Amid the crush of reporters that comes with that type of performance, however, Murray was careful not to speak too boldly. He heaped praise on the play of the offensive line and the wide receiver, and he complimented Scott Linehan’s play calling.
“We had a good day running the ball, but we definitely left some yards out there,” Murray said. “We’ve got to get better on a few things, we’ll watch film and review it. It was a good victory for us, but we’ve got to clean it up a little bit.”
It says a lot that against a front that limited Jammal Charles to 19 yards just last week, Murray didn’t go backward one time. Three of his carries went for no gain, but Murray wasn’t tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
It’s not that Tennessee’s front seven isn’t talented. Led by All-Pro defensive end Jurrell Casey, the Titans sacked Tony Romo four times in a losing effort, but they simply had no answer for Murray’s physicality. His runs weren’t even of the game breaking variety, as he had just two runs of 15 yards or more. He simply battered the Titans into submission, instead.
“This is how you want to play, obviously,” Garrett said. “You have to control the line of scrimmage in order to run the ball throughout the game. Hopefully, if you’re able to do that, you can do that at the end of the game.”
The Cowboys were so effective that by the end of the 16-point win, it was Lance Dunbar winding down the clock. Murray rested on the sideline, his fumbling woes long forgotten – by everyone else, at least.
“I can’t let that happen. I’ve just got to revert what I’m used to doing and holding it with the hand I’m comfortable in,” Murray said. “I can’t let that happen, and I’ll get to work on that.”
The fumble set the Titans up near midfield, putting the Dallas defense in a bad spot to open the game. Murray’s proficiency with the football more than made up for that during the rest of the game. With the rushing attack clicking, the Cowboys limited the Titans to 19 minutes of possession, allowing their defense to flourish for the 49 snaps they were on the field.
“When you can do that, drive the football again and again and again and control the football and control the game, it gives you a great chance to win,” Garrett said.
When the Titans did manage to rally, the Cowboys picked up the slack to put things away. Tennessee cut their deficit to six points thanks largely to a 61-yard touchdown by Delanie Walker in the third quarter. With the lead in the balance,
Tony Romo led Dallas on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. His three-yard touchdown connection with Dez Bryant set the Cowboys up to do what had been working in the fourth quarter – run the ball.
The Cowboys ran 22 plays in the fourth quarter – 17 of them runs. Murray’s big day is likely to make him the NFL’s leading rusher through two weeks. Downplaying again, he reiterated his focus on the stat he cares most about.
“Like I said before, I’m not worried about those stats, I’m just worried about wins and losses,” he said.
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