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MILESTONES: Achieved during Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears game

Here are the notes compiled after tonight’s game:

Jason Witten (112 yards) and Dez Bryant (105) each topped 100 receiving yards to mark the first time the Cowboys had a pair of100-yard receivers in a game since Miles Austin (143) and Witten (102) did it at San Francisco (9/18/11).

Miles Austin’s 57 yards tonight gave him 3,594 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (3,565), Jay Novacek (3,576) and Terrell Owens (3,587) for eighth in club record books.

Austin’s touchdown catch gave him his 31st career scoring reception to tie Lance Rentzel for ninth in Cowboys history.

Cole Beasley had his first career reception tonight, finishing with two for 14 yards.

Josh Brent notched his first career sack tonight.

Dez Bryant’s eight receptions tonight gave him 129 for his career to pass Pettis Norman, Alvin Harper (124 each) and Eric Bjornson (127) and tie Dan Reeves for 33rd in franchise history.

Bryant totaled 105 receiving yards tonight to give him 1,758 yards for his career to pass Pettis Norman (1,672) and Dan Reeves (1,693) for 31st in club history.

Bryant’s 105-yard performance was his second career 100-yard game and a career-high. His first was at the N.Y. Giants (11/14/10) when he finished with 104 yards.

Victor Butler recovered his second career fumble following the force by DeMarcus Ware’s sack.

Andre Holmes had caught his first career pass tonight for seven yards.

Danny McCray made the first start of his career, filling in at safety after Barry Church was placed on Reserve/Injured (Achilles) last week.

Brian Moorman made his Cowboys debut, punting in place of Chris Jones (knee). Moorman punted three times for a 37.0 average, a 34.3 net and two downed inside the Bears 20.

DeMarco Murray rushed 11 times tonight to give him 237 career rushing attempts. He passed Chris Warren (217) and Daryl Johnston (232) for 25th in Dallas record books.

Murray rushed for 24 yards tonight to up his career rushing yards total to 1,134 and pass Doug Dennison (1,112) for 22nd in franchise history.

Kyle Orton made his Cowboys debut tonight in the fourth quarter and completed nine-of-10 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown.

Tony Romo’s touchdown toss tonight was his 154th career touchdown throw. He broke a tie with Roger Staubach for sole possession of third place on the Dallas Cowboys all-time touchdown pass list.

Romo finished the game with 307 passing yards, to up his club record of 300-yard passing games to 33.

Romo also suffered five interceptions tonight to tie his career high previously established at Buffalo (10/8/07).

Phillip Tanner had his first career catch tonight and finished with two grabs for 20 yards.

DeMarcus Ware had a sack tonight in which he forced his 30th career fumble to extend his club record. His last three sacks (two from last week) have each resulted in a forced fumble.

Ware now has three forced fumbles on the season, his sixth career season with three-or-more forced fumbles which ties the fifth-highest figure by a defender in league history.

Jason Witten finished with 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown tonight. His 112 yards tied the ninth-most receiving yards in a game in his career while his 13 receptions were the third-most in his career, tied the third-most by a Cowboys pass catcher in franchise history – Lance Rentzel (vs. Washington, 11/19/67) and tied the eighth-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history.

Witten’s Single-Game Receptions

No.            Opp.(Date)

15………… at Detroit (12/9/07)

14………… at N.Y. Giants (12/6/09)

13………… vs. Chicago (10/1/12)

Witten’s 100-yard outing upped his Cowboys tight end record of 100-yard games to 15.

Witten’s touchdown reception tonight was his 42nd career scoring grab and his first since his 59-yard score at Washington (11/20/11). His 42 touchdown catches broke a tie with Billy Joe DuPree for sole possession of sixth on the club’s all-time touchdown receptions list.

RUNNING GAME: DeMarco Murray’s proven he can carry the load

Dallas Cowboys running back RB DeMarco Murray vs Seattle - The Boys Are Back blog

Speaking to the local media a couple weeks back, DeMarco Murray bristled a bit when asked, again, about the broken ankle that cut short his 2011 season. It’s clear the running back has about had it with questions about his durability.

He’s heard it enough over the last five years. Late in his redshirt freshman season of 2007, he suffered a dislocated kneecap that kept him out of spring drills. Then in 2008, he injured his hamstring on the opening kickoff of the Big 12 Championship, missing the remainder of that game and the BCS Championship in January, 2009.

A knee injury in 2010 created some doubt that he would miss the Big 12 Championship.

Despite those injuries, Murray is steadfast that durability is not a problem for him. He played four seasons in college and missed only four games.

As a senior, he had 282 rushes and 71 receptions, giving him 353 total touches on offense. Few players entering the NFL in recent years can boast such durability in a single season.

Last year, Murray was injured for half of the preseason, slowing his ascent to the role of lead back. But when he took over the job, he showed how strong he was again, averaging more than 22 touches over the next seven games, including two squeezed into a matter of five days on the week of Thanksgiving.

The injury against New York, early in Week 14, was a freak one.

Back to that question from Monday morning as to whether anyone can catch up to Emmitt Smith’s record? Don’t necessarily count out Murray just yet, other than the obvious long odds that stand against any back. At least over the course of consecutive games and for a whole season, Murray has shown durability similar to Smith.

Dallas Cowboys running back RB Emmitt Smith - The Boys Are Back blog

Murray’s 897 yards last year (on 164 carries), were the most by a Cowboys rookie since Smith’s 937 (on 241 carries) in 1990.

Yet Murray is already 24. Smith played his second NFL season at age 22. And while there might be a couple nifty pieces on this Cowboys offensive line, it’s hard to envision any team putting together a crew quite like the front five Smith was able to run behind.

There was also Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin to keep defenses from loading up the box. And the Cowboys’ own defense in those days was so good it helped the offense, and Smith, control the time of possession.

Smith had a great fullback or two, most notably Daryl Johnston. Interestingly enough, Jerry Jones was asked last week whether he was comfortable with Murray continuing with the formidable workload he had last year. Jones thought the protection Murray will get from new fullback Lawrence Vickers would be a reason to continue feeding Murray rather than taking it easy on him.

"Especially with where we are now with Vickers and possibly our young fullbacks, yes," Jones said. "I like what our running backs have a chance to benefit from, with what we’re doing at fullback. This could be the best we’ve been at fullback since Daryl."

It’s impossible to say whether Murray will have the staying power to rush for even half as many yards as Smith’s 18,355. And Smith’s career carries record of 4,409 carries – nearly 600 more than second place – is probably secure for a long time to come.

But maybe this year Murray could challenge Smith’s team record for most carries in a season, 377, set in 1995.

If he can just avoid freak injuries, as Smith was lucky enough to do, Murray has proven he has the durability to carry the load.

EXECUTION IS KEY: Dallas Cowboys can’t expect O to take off

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) gets sacked by Arizona Cardinals defensive end

Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) gets sacked by Arizona Cardinals defensive end

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IRVING, Texas — Tony Fiammetta has become something of a present-day mix of Walt Garrison, Ron Springs, Robert Newhouse and Daryl Johnston in his three-game absence due to an illness. Miles Austin’s stature has grown in his four-game absence even with the stellar play of Laurent Robinson in his place.

What the Cowboys have to guard against is thinking just because Austin and Fiammetta are back all will be well with the offense on Sunday at 7:20 p.m. against the New York Football Giants at Cowboys Stadium.

“You can’t make more than what it is,” said Jason Witten, who should benefit from Austin’s return. “At the end of the day you still have to execute and not think, ‘Oh, he’s going to get his.’ You’ve got to be ready.”

When Austin returned from a left hamstring injury at New England after missing two games, he caught seven passes for 74 yards. There is no doubt he and Tony Romo have a special connection that was built through years of practice.

Can he just step in and excel right away after a month-long absence?

“We’ll see,” Romo said. “He’s done a good job in practice and he’s a great player, so I hope so.”

While it looks doubtful that Martellus Bennett will play against the Giants because of a muscle strain in his rib cage, this will be the first time since that New England game that Jason Garrett has his mainstay offensive players available.

He will never admit that his play calling was compromised by the absences of Austin and Fiammetta, but their returns should at least open up more dimensions.

“It’s nice to get your team back again,” Garrett said. “I think the teams that play the best are the teams that are able to absorb the adversities that happen and injuries are a part of this league. Every team has them. You have to be able to deal with them but it’s nice to get your guys back though.”

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DALLAS COWBOYS RING OF HONOR: Who will be next?

Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor - The Boys Are Back
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor – The Boys Are Back

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Today the Cowboys will induct Larry Allen, Charles Haley and Drew Pearson into the Ring of Honor. It’s the first time the Cowboys have conducted such an event since the Triplets in 2005.

With that we look at ten players who might be next for the Jerry Jones committee of one to consider.

Harvey Martin.No name resonates more with former Cowboys players than this man. He led the Cowboys in sacks seven times, is the unofficial franchise leader with 114 and holds the single-season mark of 23 sacks in the 1977 season. Before there was Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware, Martin along with Randy White and Bob Lilly set the standard for pass rushers in franchise history.

Bill Bates.A special teams ace and despite making just one Pro Bowl, 1984, he was a beloved figure in Cowboys lore. When you think of outstanding special teams players in Cowboys history, Bates’ name comes up first. Nobody was better on a unit the causal fan knew nothing about.

Darren Woodson. A three-time All Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler won three Super Bowl titles. He was a talented safety who not only covered tight ends but wide receivers. His presence is still felt at Valley Ranch, because the Cowboys have not replaced him and his signature is inside a locker of former safety Roy Williams, that’s now the home of cornerback Terence Newman.

Everson Walls. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five times, is second all-time in franchise history with 44 and still holds the single-season record with 11 picks in 1981. The 11 picks is also the franchise record for a rookie. It would be nice if Walls gets in with Martin, another Dallas native.

Jimmy Johnson. The second coach in Cowboys history rebuilt the franchise and won two Super Bowl titles and the third one, XXX in 1995 was with Barry Switzer, but it was Johnson’s team. The ending was bad, but there’s no denying what Johnson meant to the franchise.

Charlie Waters. A three-time Pro Bowler at strong safety, Waters started 22 of 25 playoff games. He was a fierce hitter who gets lost because we talk so much about Cliff Harris. Waters is considered one of the top safeties in Cowboys history.

Deion Sanders.He made his mark with Atlanta, yet, Sanders was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro and of course won one title with the Cowboys. Sanders holds the career mark for punt return average at 13.3. He was the first big money free agency signed by the Cowboys and he was a playmaker on defense and special teams.

Daryl Johnston. When Emmitt Smith broke the all-time rushing mark, he hugged this man. Johnston didn’t miss a game from 1992-to-1995. Johnston is one of the best fullbacks in franchise history, and his blocks paved the way for Smith to get a bulk of his yardage.

Danny White. The third-round pick from Arizona State, made only one Pro Bowl, and he had just one losing season in the years he started, 1987 where he compiled a 3-6 mark at age 35. He took the Cowboys to three NFC title games, never advancing to the Super Bowl. White is second in completions in franchise history at 1,761.

Mark Stepnoski.A five-time Pro Bowler who won three titles. But here’s a little known fact: He was named to the second-team of the 1990s All-Decade team. Stepnoski was a solid player during his era, not only with the Cowboys but in the NFL as well.

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