Tag Archives: DeMarco Murray

2015-2016 DALLAS COWBOYS: GM swaps DM’s–From DeMarco Murray 2 Darren McFadden | Scouting Report–Then & Now | The Fiscal Free-Agency Formula | Jerry Jones official statement | RB ROPES RIVAL–DeMarco Murray officially a wealthy Philadelphia Eagle

2015-2016 DALLAS COWBOYS - The GM DM swap–From DeMarco Murray 2 Darren McFadden - Scouting Report–Then & Now

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2015-2016 DALLAS COWBOYS: Racing the clock with that heavy rock–The Murray age factor | Running Back options without DeMarco | Young bucks on the NFL Draft board | Free Agent RBs on the market

2015-2016 DALLAS COWBOYS: Racing the clock with a heavy rock–DeMarco Murray age factor

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COWBOYS DOLLARS AND SENSE: Dez, from Tags to Riches | DeMarco Deal of Fortune | The Timeframe Temptation with Tony Romo’s contract | Jerry Jones extensive interview | Bonus MP3 audio download

COWBOYS DOLLARS AND SENSE: From Tags to Riches | DeMarco Deal of Fortune | The Timeframe Temptation with Tony Romo’s contract | Jerry Jones extensive interview | Bonus MP3 audio download

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INSIDE THE 2014 PLAYBOOK: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees strength in running | More deep shots downfield will stretch defenses

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Tony Romo under center

Scott Linehan is known for directing pass-heavy offenses. During his previous five seasons as Detroit’s offensive coordinator, no team threw the ball more. Over those 80 games, the Lions averaged 40.7 pass attempts per game, four more than the Dallas Cowboys averaged during that time.

So, it was somewhat surprising to hear the new Dallas Cowboys offensive play-caller talking on the radio about how Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game would be the team’s strength this season.

“Things that were done last year in the running game with DeMarco, the running style that was created here is really a good fit,” Linehan said recently on 105.3 The Fan. “That’s going to be our strength, being able to lean on that running game a little bit more than the past.

“Obviously, with this offensive line, this is going to be something that’s going to help our passing game. The looks that Dez [Bryant] started to get as the year went on, people started giving him the attention that Calvin [Johnson] and Randy Moss would get as far as getting those double coverage’s. You need to have those other facets of your offense as far as your running game.”

Linehan also mentioned how an increased emphasis on running the ball could lead to the Cowboys using a fullback more often than they did in 2013.

Four-year veteran Tyler Clutts is the only fullback on Dallas’ current roster. LSU fullback J.C. Copeland was one of 24 undrafted free agents signed Tuesday by the Cowboys. Copeland was considered one of the top blocking fullbacks in college football.

“The No. 1 goal, and I told Jason [Garrett] this when I came here, is to keep a lot of things the same,” Linehan said. “It’s a lot easier for the players to not have to change how they call things. To the naked eye, they’ll be similar.

“I just want to be an asset and bring some ideas that maybe haven’t been implemented that I can add to current things that were done well in the systems I’ve been around.

“Jason and I have a good background. … There are a lot of similarities. It’s just the language. I just basically made the commitment to transfer over what I’ve called things, the way people call things to keep it consistent for the players so they can step on the field and be ready to go from the get-go of OTAs.”

Historically, the Dallas Cowboys’ new offensive play-caller has never been afraid to stretch a defense by taking deep shots downfield.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dez Bryant scores on play-action pass

He did it with Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. Expect him to do the same with Dez Bryant in Dallas.

“That’s a big part of what I grew up in or believe in,” Linehan recently said. “It’s going to be our philosophy to do those kinds of things maybe a little more. I think we have the personnel for it, for sure. It’s a way to get people backed up a little bit and also create big plays.

“Everybody says it’s a low percentage play. Depending on the look, it’s a high percentage play, as long as you got weapons on the outside part of the field. I really believe we have that. We also have some big targets with our tight ends. Having the talent, the speed and the length we have at our skill positions I think it’s something you got to implement, and that really helps open up things for your running game as well.”

Going deep wasn’t a large part of the Dallas Cowboys offensive attack in 2013. Tony Romo ranked 17th in the NFL last season in pass attempts of 21 or more air yards.

“One of the most intriguing things for me coming here was we got some great weapons on offense,” Linehan said. “Obviously we’ve built a heck of an offensive line. Tony’s a proven player that I’ve always been a big fan of throughout his career. We’ve got a pretty decent receiver [Bryant] and a pretty decent tight end [Jason Witten]. Those guys are pretty good.”

Linehan then mentioned the upside he sees in second-year receiving targets Terrance Williams and Gavin Escobar.

Williams played in all 16 games, starting eight as the team’s No. 2 receiver last season. The third-round pick caught 44 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. Escobar, a second-round pick, was used sparingly, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns from the tight end position.

“The Escobar kid … is a guy that’s kind of somewhat untapped at this point,” Linehan said. “It’s not because he doesn’t have the ability to do it. We really liked him [in Detroit] last year coming out in the draft. I followed him when he came here. Now that I’m working with him, I’m really excited to see what he can do for us, too

TIPPING THE BALANCING ACT: New playcaller Scott Linehan was pass heavy in Detroit because he had to be | Dallas Cowboys roster may allow Linehan to attack all parts of the field

POINT AND COUNTERPOINT - Dallas Cowboys playcaller Scott Linehan was pass heavy in Detroit because he had to be - Video

Former Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston commented on the team’s recent coaching change regarding playcaller Scott Linehan …

Daryl Johnston: When Scott was in Detroit, Scott had a tendency to be very, very pass heavy with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. But I think you go back and watch them this year. When he had Reggie Bush and when he had Joique Bell – we did a Detroit game late in the year – it was fun to see him starting to come back. He just didn’t have the running game there. I think people have to be careful – when you go back and look at the history of how Scott called the games in Detroit – understand that they didn’t have to running game to lean on. They were very, very one dimensional because they had to. I think it’s going to be fun seeing how he transitions in now, having a team that has a good running back behind him. I think the offensive line is going to take another step next year.

Click HERE to watch the short video (pardon the increasingly familiar and annoying ad delay)


TIPPING THE BALANCING ACT: Now, Linehan can truly attack all parts of the field

TIPPING THE BALANCING ACT - Now, as the Dallas Cowboys playcaller, Scott Linehan can truly attack all parts of the field

In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys offense was out of whack. The rushing attack had no teeth, accounting for 1,265 yards, the lowest total recorded during a 16-game season in franchise history. To move the ball, Dallas relied predominantly on Tony Romo. He attempted the most passes and threw for the most yards in team history.

Still, Dallas didn’t feature the most unbalanced offense in the league that season. Detroit, under the direction of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, did.

Less than two years later, Linehan has been hired by the Dallas Cowboys. He will take over the play-calling role that offensive coordinator Bill Callahan assumed last season. The Cowboys have retained Callahan, who often faced criticism for cramming pass plays into his game plans while ignoring the ground game.

Callahan was ripped in the aftermath of a close victory over a dreadful Minnesota team last November, when Romo threw 51 times and the Dallas Cowboys executed eight called running plays. A month later, Callahan was identified as scapegoat after Dallas managed to surrender a 23-point advantage and lose to Green Bay. The historic collapse happened, in part, because the Cowboys attempted three times as many throws as runs in the second half, allowing for time to be preserved as its lead disappeared.

“We have to be more balanced,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last year.

It was a common refrain — one that he repeated in September, November and December.

But will Linehan help restore equilibrium to the Dallas Cowboys offense?

During any of his five seasons in Detroit, the Lions never ran the ball more than 40.4 percent of the time. Former Highland Park standout Matthew Stafford and All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson were the primary engines of the Lions’ offense. In nine of the 16 games he started in 2013, Stafford threw 40 or more passes. Johnson, meanwhile, was targeted 156 times — the ninth-highest total in the league. Leaning on Stafford and Johnson, Linehan proved aggressive in his play-calling. Stafford attempted 56 passes of 21 or more air yards last season. Romo, meanwhile, threw 42.

Under Callahan’s supervision, the Dallas Cowboys were reluctant to stretch the field vertically. Linehan has never been hesitant to do that. When he was hired as the offensive coordinator in Miami and served on Nick Saban’s staff with Jason Garrett in 2005, Linehan proclaimed he wanted the Dolphins to throw downfield.

“It’s fair to say there’s going to be some deep threat incorporated into every read,” Linehan told the Palm Beach Post then. “The coverage will dictate where the ball goes. But we’re going to attack all parts of the field.”

A quarterback at Idaho, Linehan’s allegiance to the pass was established under Dennis Erickson, who popularized the one-back offense. In his first NFL stop, with Minnesota, Linehan showed his commitment to throwing the ball by maintaining the strong connection between Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. From 2002-04, when he was the offensive coordinator, the Vikings finished in the top 10 in offensive points scored. During Linehan’s first NFL campaign, Minnesota also had the top rushing attack in the NFL.

The Lions’ best running game during his tenure was ranked 17 in the league as Linehan presided over an offense that, at times, was more unbalanced than the Dallas Cowboys.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Scott Linehan’s offenses

At each of his coaching stops as offensive coordinator (OC) or head coach, Scott Linehan’s offenses have passed more than they ran. The rundown:

Year

Team

Job Title

Run pct.

Rank

Pass pct.

Rank 

2002

Minnesota

OC/QBs

43.8

15

56.2

18

2003

Minnesota

OC/QBs

46.7

12

53.3

21

2004

Minnesota

OC/ QBs

39.3

28

60.7

5

2005

Miami

OC

43.3

19

56.7

14

2006

St. Louis

Head coach

39.8

28

60.2

5

2007

St. Louis

Head coach

39.4

26

60.6

7

2008

St. Louis

Head coach*

42.5

21

57.5 

12

2009

Detroit

OC

39.4

27

60.6

6

2010

Detroit

OC

38.0

28

62.0

5

2011

Detroit

OC

33.6

32

66.4

1

2012

Detroit

OC

33.7

32

66.3

1

2013

Detroit

OC

40.4

19

59.6

14


Editors comment: Yes, historically Scott Linehan leans towards the pass. With Tony Romo, and this core of Dallas Cowboys receivers, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The ratios above are not as important as Linehan’s aggressive style and philosophical compatibility with Jason Garrett regarding attacking all parts of the field. Garrett repeated stated his desire to establish and maintain a run threat during the 2013 season. If Linehan can build 25-30 runs into each 2014-2015 gameplan, the Cowboys can achieve 20 or so runs per game. This allows for Romo audibles and pre-snap kills … based on coverage shown by opposing defenses. The key, is remaining in a run threat formation … regardless of Romo’s preconceived, intended, or emerging target during each snap. With DeMarco Murray and this young emerging offensive line, it’s fair to expect more balance in the upcoming season.

NFL ALL-STAR GAME: New NFL Pro Bowl format creates drama

VIDEO - 2013 2014 NFL PRO BOWL 2013 2014 - New NFL Pro Bowl 2014 - Team Rice Team Sanders

HONOLULU — The NFL wanted Pro Bowl drama. The NFL got Pro Bowl drama.

Alex Smith, the final pick in last Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Draft, led Team Rice on the final touchdown drive on a rain-soaked field. Then Jerry Rice and Riverboat Ron Rivera went for two and clinched a 22-21 win over Team Sanders in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.

This was the best Pro Bowl in a long, long time.

Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s game (Watch highlight video):

1. Even if the banter was manufactured by the 2014 Pro Bowl Draft, players after the game said they enjoyed the process and the opportunity to play with guys they never had a chance to team with before. It was a theme all week.

2. Teammates hitting each other didn’t seem like a big deal. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson laid the wood on teammate Jamaal Charles early. Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward later flipped Josh Gordon to the ground. We never did get that teammate-on-quarterback sack, though.

3. Speaking of quarterback sacks, the defensive lines dominated. The two teams ended up with nine sacks. Early in the contest, we wondered if Sean Payton would call Team Rice’s coach (and division rival) Ron Rivera and ask him to sit Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback was sacked twice and battered often. The QB pressures were a big reason for all the turnovers.

4. J.J. Watt was a beast. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh and later Greg Hardy, Watt was unblockable. With Team Rice double-teaming Watt, Hardy picked up a sack. Don’t think management in Houston didn’t see that and ponder what Jadeveon Clowney would look like next to Watt.

5. The playful teammate trash talk was constant and likely will linger in texts and tweets the next couple days. Mike Tolbert’s SuperCam mock-celebration after his two-point conversion was emblematic. “I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to,” Tolbert said laughing.

6. The lack of continuity on offense clearly hurt the product. Not only were there fewer teammate combinations due to the draft, the new format also lessened the practice time by one day. There were a multitude of miscommunications between quarterback and receiver.

7. Speaking of teammates, Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for an early touchdown pass. On the play, Brent Grimes (all 5-foot-10 of him) ended up on the 6-foot-7 tight end. That, friends, is a mismatch.

8. What was going through Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s mind as he rumbled toward the end zone after his second-quarter interception? “I was thinking of a touchdown celebration dance,” Poe said after the game. “I didn’t get there, but next time I will though.”


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NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME: DeMarco Murray’s late TD lifts Team Jerry Rice to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl win

NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME - DeMarco Murray’s late TD lifts Team Jerry Rice to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl win - Watch Video

The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.

Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.

Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.

In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.

Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.

The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.

Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.

Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.

Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.

Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.

Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.

DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.


DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.


Team Jerry Rice
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
A. Smith 9/22 116 1 1
P. Rivers 8/13 94 1 2
D. Brees 9/19 81 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
M. Forte 6 31 0 11
D. Murray 4 25 0 12
L. McCoy 3 14 0 8
M. Tolbert 3 14 0 7
J. Gordon 1 13 0 13
A. Smith 1 13 0 13
D. Brees 2 4 0 4
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
J. Gordon 6 66 1 24
J. Graham 5 51 1 16
T. Gonzalez 3 50 0 31
D. Murray 4 37 1 20T
M. Forte 3 24 0 13
A. Jeffery 2 22 0 14
B. Marshall 1 21 0 21
L. McCoy 1 18 0 18
D. McCluster 1 2 0 2
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
D. Brees 1 0 1 -6
L. McCoy 1 1 0 0
D. Johnson 0 0 0 0
A. Verner 0 0 1 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
S. Gostkowski 0/1 0 2/2 2
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
J. Hekker 4 47.0 2 56
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
D. McCluster 5 11 0 26
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
D. Johnson 8-1 0.0 0 1
V. Burfict 5-0 0.0 1 0
M. Dareus 4-0 2.0 0 0
R. Mathis 4-0 0.0 0 0
A. Rolle 3-1 0.0 0 0
J. Byrd 2-0 0.0 0 0
B. Flowers 2-0 0.0 0 0
J. Hatcher 2-0 1.0 0 0
C. Jordan 2-0 1.0 0 0
K. Williams 2-0 0.0 0 0
J. Abraham 1-0 0.0 0 0
J. Haden 1-0 0.0 1 0
R. Quinn 1-0 1.0 0 0
Team Deion Sanders
Passing CP/AT YDS TD INT
C. Newton 8/17 95 0 1
N. Foles 7/10 89 1 0
A. Luck 5/7 80 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
J. Charles 5 43 0 17
E. Lacy 7 14 0 8
A. Morris 2 4 0 4
C. Newton 2 1 1 1T
A. Luck 1 0 0 0
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
A. Morris 4 69 0 27
D. Jackson 3 40 1 36T
A. Brown 1 39 0 39
M. Reece 2 31 0 21
J. Cameron 3 27 1 12T
J. Witten 2 26 0 15
D. Bryant 2 12 0 10
E. Lacy 1 9 0 9
A. Green 1 7 0 7
J. Charles 1 4 0 4
Fumbles FUM LOST REC YDS
A. Luck 1 0 0 -10
A. Morris 1 1 0 0
C. Newton 1 0 1 -7
E. Berry 0 0 1 0
D. Jackson 0 0 1 0
L. Kuechly 0 0 0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
J. Tucker 0/2 0 3/3 3
Punting NO AVG I20 LG
B. Fields 5 38.0 0 59
Kickoff Returns NO AVG TD LG
Punt Returns NO AVG TD LG
C. Patterson 2 0 0 1
A. Brown 1 7 0 7
Defense T-A SCK INT FF
L. Kuechly 11-1 0.0 0 1
E. Berry 4-0 0.0 1 0
P. Posluszny 4-0 0.0 0 0
T. Suggs 4-1 0.0 0 0
T. Jennings 3-0 0.0 0 0
B. Grimes 2-0 0.0 1 0
T. Hali 2-0 0.0 0 0
G. McCoy 2-1 2.0 0 0
D. Revis 2-0 0.0 0 0
T. Ward 2-1 0.0 0 0
G. Hardy 1-0 1.0 0 0
B. Orakpo 1-1 0.0 0 0
P. Peterson 1-0 0.0 1 0
M. Reece 1-0 0.0 0 0
N. Suh 1-0 0.0 0 0
J. Watt 1-0 1.0 0 0
E. Weddle 1-1 0.0 0 0
D. Poe 0-0 0.0 1 0
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
Total First Downs 24   Total First Downs 14
By Rushing 7   By Rushing 4
By Passing 16   By Passing 10
By Penalty     By Penalty  
Third Down Efficiency 6/16 – 37%   Third Down Efficiency 2/11 – 18%
Fourth Down Efficiency 2/4 – 50%   Fourth Down Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Total Net Yards 384   Total Net Yards 285
Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 78   Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks) 56
Average Gain per Offensive Play 4.9   Average Gain per Offensive Play 5.1
Net Yards Rushing 114   Net Yards Rushing 62
Total Rushing Plays 20   Total Rushing Plays 17
Average Gain per Rushing Play 5.7   Average Gain per Rushing Play 3.6
Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 1–1   Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards) 1–3
Net Yards Passing 270   Net Yards Passing 223
Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 4 – 21   Times Sacked (Number-Yards) 5 – 41
Gross Yards Passing 291   Gross Yards Passing 264
Pass Comp-Att-Int 26 – 54 – 4   Pass Comp-Att-Int 20 – 34 – 2
Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 4.7   Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks) 5.7
Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 0 – 0 – 0   Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks) 0 – 0 – 0
Punts (Number-Average) 4 – 49.0   Punts (Number-Average) 5 – 49.2
Blocked 0   Blocked 0
Net Punting Average 47.0   Net Punting Average 38.0
FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0   FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked 0 – 0
Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 56   Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs) 109
Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 5 – 56   Punt Returns (Number-Yards) 3 – 8
Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0   Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards) 0 – 0
Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 2 – 0   Interception Returns (Number-Yards) 4 – 101
Penalties (Number-Yards) 4 – 20   Penalties (Number-Yards) 2 – 10
Fumbles (Number-Lost) 2 – 1   Fumbles (Number-Lost) 3 – 1
Touchdowns 3   Touchdowns 3
Rushing 0   Rushing 1
Passing 3   Passing 2
Interceptions 0   Interceptions 0
Kickoff Returns 0   Kickoff Returns 0
Fumble Returns 0   Fumble Returns 0
Punt Returns 0   Punt Returns 0
Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3   Extra Points (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Kicking (Made-Attempted) 2 – 2   Kicking (Made-Attempted) 3 – 3
Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 1 – 1   Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted) 0 – 0
Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 1   Field Goals (Made-Attempted) 0 – 2
Red Zone Efficiency 2/4 – 50%   Red Zone Efficiency 2/3 – 66%
Goal To Go Efficiency 2/3 – 66%   Goal To Go Efficiency 1/2 – 50%
Safeties 0   Safeties 0
Final Score 22   Final Score 21
Time of Possession 32:47   Time of Possession 27:13

NFL Pro Bowl 2014


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COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII: DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster

COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII - DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster

IRVING, Texas –  The Dallas Cowboys initially had just two Pro Bowlers heading to Hawaii. Now they have five.

The latest addition is yet another first-timer as running back DeMarco Murray has been added, replacing San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who was injured in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks.

Murray makes his first Pro Bowl trip of his three-year career after enjoying his first 1,000-yard season. He rushed for 1,124 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns during the 2013 season. He also scored six of his nine touchdowns in the second half of the season.

Murray becomes the first Cowboys running back since Marion Barber in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl and just the second since Emmitt Smith’s eighth and final selection in 1999.

Murray joins a running back group of Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy, who were all initially selected. Adrian Peterson was also picked but won’t play because of injury and Marshawn Lynch is out because of the Super Bowl. Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris have been added as replacements for those two but Murray now replaces Gore.

Originally, the Cowboys only had two Pro Bowl selections – Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a pair of first-round picks who are going for the first time. Last week, Jason Hatcher was added to the roster as a replaced for Baltimore’s injured nose tackle Haloti Ngata. And on Sunday, Jason Witten made it to the Pro Bowl after Denver’s Julius Thomas had to be replaced after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl.

The first ever “Unconferenced” Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, airing on NBC at 6 p.m. (CST). The first-ever NFL Pro Bowl draft will be nationally-televised on NFL Network Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m. CST) as alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the teams.

RELATED: TE Jason Witten fourth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. – Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will now be heading to his ninth career Pro Bowl.

Witten was added to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday to replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who’s now Super Bowl bound.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith were initially the only two players selected to the Pro Bowl from the Dallas Cowboys, but Jason Hatcher (and now Witten) were additions this week. Witten’s ninth Pro Bowl appearance ties him with Randy White for the fourth-most in team history, behind only Bob Lilly, Larry Allen and Mel Renfro.

Jason Witten started all 16 games this year for the Cowboys and played in all 16 games for the 10th straight season. He finished with 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, which marked his second-highest touchdown total of his career behind only the nine he scored in 2010.

He finished the 2013 season placing fifth in catches and yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns among all tight ends around the league.

Witten made the Pro Bowl every year from 2004-2010 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, in which he recorded a career-high 110 catches. All the other three Cowboys will be going to the Pro Bowl for the first time.


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TIPPING THE BALANCE: DeMarco Murray is ready and willing to carry a bigger load

dallas cowboys rb demarco murray runs against the philadelphia eagles - the boys are back blog

With quarterback Tony Romo sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton set to start in his place, there is no question the Dallas Cowboys will lean heavily on the running game in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the midst of the best stretch in what has already been the best season of his career, said he is ready and willing to carry a bigger load.

“If they do, then great,” Murray said. “If they don’t, then so be it. I’m preparing like I do any other week. I’m working hard, making sure I know my assignments and knowing my keys and things of that nature, so I’ll be ready.” 

Murray has 1,073 yards in 13 games, becoming the first Dallas Cowboys running back to top 1,000-yard mark since 2006.

He has rushed for 376 yards the past three games combined, averaging a whopping 6.4 yards carry during those contests.

“We’ve been really jelling together,” Murray said. “I think the offensive line, they’re doing a great job of blocking and I’m doing a great job of running and making guys miss …. Since I’ve been here this is the best [it’s been].” 

Coach Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan are both on record saying they are not going to change up the offense much with Orton at helm. But both acknowledge that balance is important and being successful on the ground would be a great help to a new quarterback, especially one with only five pass attempts this season and just 15 the past two seasons combined.

Again Murray said he is ready for whatever. His only goal is a successful game plan to win the game and reach the playoffs.

“I just want to win, run the ball or not,” Murray said. “I just want to win the game.”

COWBOYS VS. PACKERS GAME TAPE: Jason Garrett press conference | Gameday film study

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Jason Garrett press conference: Game breakdown after game film review (23:20)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media after having a chance to review the tape of Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers game (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • How Jason Garrett asserts himself in game time offensive decisions
  • Why it’s hard to remain (appear) stubborn regarding the run in running situations
  • Any way to defend Tony Romo switching to the pass when a run is called
  • What Jason Garrett could have done differently to prevent that (turnover) from happening
  • Communication during an actual call in critical situations (run, no pass option veto)
  • How often has Jason Garrett told Tony Romo specifically what to do on a play call
  • Instead of hindsight, why aren’t adjustment decisions made during the course of the game
  • Second guessing Escobar not being in-motion to block the sack on Romo
  • Any point in the second half where Jason Garrett was second guessing
  • If he feels like he signaled Tony Romo out in the postgame press conference (below)
  • Steps to put the “overlay” into decisions during critical situations (situational awareness) 
  • How ineffective 3rd downs affect decisions with play calling on 2nd downs
  • DeMarco Murray’s sideline frustration in 2nd half; disservice to him by not running
  • How Dez Bryant decision to leave field was addressed; thoughts on issue
  • Was Dez Bryant fined by the team (for leaving the field early)
  • Is play calling/game planning being driven by inability to stop teams from scoring
  • Is this defense forcing the offense to become more aggressive
  • Does offensive gameplan change at halftime when headset goes down; Rookies
  • Why was DeMarcus Ware so ineffective in the Green Bay game
  • How concerned is Jason Garrett about the secondary; Morris Claiborne
  • Was pass rush improvement seen in this game compared to Chicago game last week
  • How DeMarco Murray’s run percentage plays are factored in to each game
  • The specifics of the play where Cole Beasley was targeted, but resulted in an INT
  • What do you say to fans that are looking for reasons to be optimistic going forward
  • Sense of urgency factors placed on players/coaches because of recent losses
  • Challenges of harnessing the negatives from last two losses; how to move forward
  • Dealing with issue of not having top-four linebackers going into the Redskins game
  • DeMarcus Ware getting some 1-on-1’s and still not getting sacks; Is he still a stud
  • Has DeMarcus Ware lost some of his explosiveness
  • Explaining decisions to take Jason Hatcher/Ware off the DL in certain situations/subs
  • Biggest reason they have been able to run the ball for the past few weeks
  • Recent communication with Jerry Jones regarding job security
  • Confidence in veterans and leaders on the team
  • Even with the recent losses, who still gives Jason Garrett confidence
  • When history has show they haven’t gotten the job done in these loosing situations


RELATED VIDEO:

For Jason Garrett’s postgame press conference video, immediately following the loss to the Green Bay Packers, click HERE (Listen to Audio)

CALLAHANDOFF QUESTION: Why does the Dallas Cowboys stop trying to run before you can even establish a run game?

DALLAS COWBOYS FAN QUESTION - Why stop trying to run before you can even establish a run game - Callahan 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys offense

Why do the Dallas Cowboys abandon the run? DeMarco Murray looks healthy, and he got 4 carries in the game. They stopped trying to run before they could even establish a run game.

 

Nick: Did they abandon the run or could they simply not run the ball and so they scrapped it? I think it’s somewhere in the middle. This team hasn’t been able to run it effectively for about two years. I think Brian Waters’ injury was bigger than we thought it’d be. All of a sudden Doug Free looked bad? I think Waters has helped him just by being in the lineup. But yes, there are times the Cowboys don’t run it enough. I think this was one of these games.

Rowan: I was all for spreading it out and tossing the ball around, but I’ll admit nine runs in a game that was this tight throughout is kind of shocking. More than that, the backs never really had a chance to get going as they took a whole lot of delayed runs in shotgun and were met in the backfield. The backs actually had some success with four runs for 25 yards in the first quarter. Then, we never really saw them again.

David: I don’t mind that the Cowboys don’t commit to the run in a strict sense. But I do mind that they talk often about balance and controlling the game, and then they throw 51 times compared to nine total runs. Either accept that you can’t or don’t want to run, or actually make the effort to run. Murray was averaging eight yards per carry, but he disappeared.

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings | DeMarco Murray back in lineup

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings - DeMarco Murray back in lineup

ARLINGTON DeMarco Murray will be active today against the Vikings after missing each of the Dallas Cowboys’ previous two games with a sprained knee.

DeMarcus Ware, on the other hand, highlights the inactives list, which also includes wide receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety J.J. Wilcox, linebacker DeVonte Holloman, tackle Darrion Weems and tight end Andre Smith.

Wilcox (knee), Holloman (neck) and Claiborne (hamstring) were all ruled out after Friday’s practice. Ware (thigh) and Austin (hamstring) were both listed as doubtful. Along with Murray, Ware’s also missed each of the last two weeks after getting injured against the Redskins, and he’ll now miss his third straight game.

Austin has been given rest and sat out last week after trying to give his sore hamstring a try against the Eagles on Oct. 20.

All the Cowboys players who were probable entering the weekend will be active, including Jason Hatcher (neck), George Selvie (shoulder) and Barry Church (hamstring).

Guard Brian Waters was also ruled out after Friday’s practice with a triceps injury, which has since moved him to injured reserve. Defensive back Micah Pellerin took Waters’ spot on the 53-man roster and will be active.

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions | Lance Dunbar returns

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions - Lance Dunbar returns - DeMarco Murray limited

IRVING, Texas – There were some encouraging signs for the Dallas Cowboys today as they took the field for their first practice in preparation of the Detroit Lions.

It remains to be seen if DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware will be able to contribute in Detroit this weekend, but both players were at practice. Murray dressed out in shoulder pads and a helmet and was active in the open portion of the Cowboys’ practice, though he did wear sweatpants instead of football pants.

Ware did not dress out, but he did work out with the team trainers using conditioning cords. He seemed to be moving well, though it’s unclear how far he has progressed with his quad injury.

“We’ll see what they do today. They seem to have gotten better over the last couple of days,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his morning press conference. “They might warm up a little bit today and we’ll see if they can practice.”

Lance Dunbar returned to the practice field, as predicted by Garrett.

“We’re going to warm him up today and see how he responds,” Garrett said. “He’s done well with his running the last few days.”

Miles Austin and Dez Bryant both dressed out for practice, though neither receiver participated in individual drills with the rest of the wide receivers.

Newly-acquired defensive tackle Marvin Austin was dressed out and participating in the newly-available No. 90.

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY: Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY - Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time, as FB

Kyle Bosworth had been practicing with the offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until Sunday that he got to play on that side of the ball. Bosworth, who makes his living as a linebacker, got to play three snaps at fullback against the Washington Redskins.

It’s the first time the Plano West graduate has been on offense since high school.

“It was a great experience,” Bosworth said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played fullback. I know they want me to be versatile and as a utility player as possible. It was just the next step in the process. It was really exciting I got the three plays.”

DALLAS’ TWO-TRICK PONY - Cowboys LB Kyle Bosworth working double time, as full back

The Cowboys lack a true fullback on their roster after cutting Lawrence Vickers in the off-season. Bosworth is a perfect fit in the team’s jumbo package, which also utilizes an extra offensive tackle in Jermey Parnell.

“I think we had three short-yardage plays in the game, and he did a good job,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Bosworth. “He’s learning. He hasn’t really done it before. But I thought one was particularly good. I thought a couple of other runs were OK. I think he’s just learning how to do it. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. We know that. That’s a positive thing.”

The Cowboys converted on all three plays Bosworth played. DeMarco Murray had a 1-yard run on third-and-one on the fourth snap of the game. On the Cowboys’ second drive, Murray followed Bosworth into the hole for a 2-yard gain on third-and-one. Then, on their third drive, Phillip Tanner gained 2 yards on a third-and-1 behind Bosworth.

“I was pleased with the second and third [plays],” Bosworth said. “The first one could have been better. But I was 3-for-3 in getting the first downs, so that’s good.”

Bosworth laughed when asked if he’d start lobbying to get a pass thrown his way.

“Man, I have great hands,” he said. “I know coach throws me a lot of balls when we’re in scout team and stuff like that, and I haven’t dropped one yet. Knock on wood. But progression. I hope that comes, because that would be just unbelievable. But in time. I’m good with blocking right now.”

Bosworth played three plays on offense, 19 on special teams and none on defense against the Redskins.

INJURY AND PRACTICE UPDATE: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles | Austin resting hammy

dallas cowboys wide receiver miles austin - the boys are back

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys gave wide receiver Miles Austin a day off today to make sure he is closer to 100 percent to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Austin was on the elliptical machine at the start of practice. He played in Dallas’ win Sunday against the Washington Redskins but did not have a catch after missing two games with a hamstring strain.

Running backs DeMarco Murray (knee) and Lance Dunbar (hamstring) are also missing from practice, as is DeMarcus Ware, who has a quadriceps strain that could keep him out Sunday. Murray has hopes of playing, but owner and general manager Jerry Jones already ruled him out.

Defensive end George Selvie returned to the practice field after he sat out Wednesday’s workout because of a sore shoulder.

Linebacker DeVonte Holloman is not practicing because of a neck strain he suffered Wednesday. Defensive end Edgar Jones (groin) is also not at practice. He did not play against Washington.

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER: DeMarco Murray may be one key to defeating the Broncos

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER - DeMarco Murray may be the key to defeating the Broncos - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Denver Broncos schedule

IRVING, Texas – There’s going to be a lot of focus on the two quarterbacks this week, and rightfully so.

One of them is playing at the highest of levels right now.

And that other guy … well, he’s playing pretty well too. Tony Romo isn’t turning the ball over, but yet the offense isn’t producing to the level we’ve seen in the past.

It’s hard to say … pick one or the other, when a guy like Peyton Manning is coming here this week with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions.

But, this game shouldn’t come down to Tony Romo vs. Peyton Manning for several reasons. Asking Romo to keep up or simply out-duel this guy is probably asking too much. However, the only time they did square off, albeit 2006, Romo did beat Manning and he virtually out-played him.

The bigger matchup is going to be Manning’s success vs. DeMarco Murray’s success.

Nothing wrong with the Dallas Cowboys grinding out yards and the clock to try to limit Manning’s possessions. It wouldn’t hurt if the game worked out that way.

Murray ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 356 yards. Not to compare him to the NFL’s best in Adrian Peterson, but the Vikings’ star has just 65 more yards and 20 more attempts.

Murray’s 4.9 yard average is really good. It needs to be pointed out that he doesn’t get many carries in short-yardage situations. If Murray got an occasional third-and-1 run for 2 yards, it might move the chains, but it would lower that average.

Of course, you’ll take the first downs all day.

And that leads me back to Sunday’s game. The Cowboys obviously need to do whatever it takes to be effective Sunday and try to keep pace with Manning and his Denver posse. But running the ball more might be the best and most effective way to start. And with Miles Austin’s hamstring injury, the passing game hasn’t been an absolute strength, despite Dez Bryant’s jaw-dropping plays.

2013-2014 NFL GAMEDAY PRIMER - DeMarco Murray may be the key to defeating the Broncos - Peyton Manning red head

This offense has passed the ball 152 times this year, to 89 rushes. Obviously that needs to change and this is the week to do it.

Easy to like how they ran it last week – averaging nearly 5 yards a carry on first down. But they only ran the ball twice on second down and not once on third. You can say Romo checks out of runs, and he’s done it quite a bit, but when the Cowboys go to a four-wide set on third-and-2, that play and personnel package is getting called from the sideline.

This team needs to run the ball – not just against Peyton Manning but against Robert Griffin III the next week and Michael Vick after that. They need to run it because the Cowboys are starting to become a good running team.

They’ve added a run-blocking center in Travis Frederick who comes from a run-oriented school at Wisconsin. They’ve added Brian Waters to the mix and Ron Leary’s biggest attribute is his strength. This interior line is completely different than last year and it’s time they start making the running game less of an afterthought and more of the focus.

And if it happens to keep Manning on the sideline a little more this Sunday … even better.

RAMMING THE ROCK: DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dallas Cowboys running game

ARLINGTON, Texas – Only the Saints are geographically closer to the Dallas Cowboys among NFC teams than are the Rams, who based on the NFL’s conference logic, reside in the West, while the Cowboys have long been in the East.

And there are no plans to change that to put the Rams in the Cowboys’ division. Sorry, DeMarco, that would be convenient for you.

Maybe the Rams were the exact cure for DeMarco Murray and this running game. No, he didn’t challenge his franchise single-game record of 253 yards he set as a rookie. But his 175 yards are now the second-highest total of his career.

In need of some rushing relief, call on the Rams. Yeah, it doesn’t matter if Jeff Fisher has changed the culture there in St. Louis, the holes looked the same. Unlike that game against the Rams two years ago, Murray didn’t have a 91-yarder to get him going.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Tony Romo under center

And that’s actually even better. For this game was much more workmanlike for Murray and the Cowboys offense. It’s amazing how efficient Tony Romo can be when he’s got a running game like he did Sunday.

Romo wasn’t flashy at all, and that’s perfect. Quarterbacks don’t have to be flashy in a 31-7 win at home. Romo was really good: 17-of-24 for 210 yards and three touchdowns with no picks for a 137.2 passer rating.

When your quarterback can be good, and your running back is great, that’s a recipe for success. Throw in the fact that the Cowboys were downright dominant on defense and that’s your 24-point blowout. And yes, in the NFL, winning by 24 is a complete blowout.

But again, it all started with the running game, and that all starts with the mindset.

You could sense earlier in the week that the Cowboys would indeed focus more on the run. Romo said they needed to run more. Play-caller Bill Callahan said he needed to call more runs. Head coach Jason Garrett said the running game needed to improve and even owner Jerry Jones not only echoed all of that, but also predicted much more success running the ball.

So you knew they would focus on running the rock.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Willams blocks for DeMarco

First play – DeMarco Murray left side for 14 yards.

Did anyone else think, just for a moment, Murray might take it the distance just like he did for 91 yards on his first carry against the Rams two years ago, a run also to the left side? He obviously didn’t make it that far, but to that point, it was still his longest rush of the season. That would change later in the day, but he would also get another 14-yarder on that first drive.

Murray for 14, 7, 2, 14, 6 and then no gain. The drive ended with a Dez Bryant touchdown pass, but the message was set. The Cowboys were indeed focused on toting the rock on this day. Hey, those 43 yards on the first drive far exceeded last week’s total of 25 yards in the entire game.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Dez Bryant scores on play-action pass

By the end of the first quarter, Murray had 86 yards on 10 attempts. He was at 96 by halftime and then in the third quarter is when he really poured it in, eventually finishing the day with 175.

So what did Murray have to say about this performance?

Well, nothing actually. He spent all day dipping and dodging Rams defenders, that he continued that trend in the locker room after the game. Murray chose not to speak to reporters, later citing that he needed to attend to a family matter. Make no mistake, he ran the ball so well inside AT&T Stadium that he made sure to rush out of the building, too.

Maybe he felt like he did his talking on the field. Whether or not he talked to reporters, Murray’s performance was not only stellar, but was also needed for a Cowboys team that is striving to be balanced.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Tony Romo impressed with running game

Yes, Romo is a good quarterback. He has moments when he’s great and he’s had some not-so-great moments, too. That’s Romo. But all quarterbacks need some help. John Elway got a little better when Terrell Davis showed up. Not comparing Romo to Elway, or even Murray to Davis, who coincidentally ripped Murray this week on NFL Network, saying he struggles with his vision and leaves yards on the field.

He didn’t leave much of anything out there on Sunday. And saw things pretty clear from start to finish.

When he’s running well, the entire offense just looks better. It’s amazing how well the play-fake can work when the defense has to respect the run. The line looks better. The receivers are open more, and the quarterback has more time to find the right targets.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - No yards left on field

This result right here is why every coach in the NFL, college, high school and probably junior high will continue to stress the importance of a good ground game. Even with all of these wide-open, spread attacks that we’re seeing everywhere, it’s still important to run the ball. You have to be able to run it. You have to run it near the goal line. You have to run it on third-and-short, and you have to run the ball when you need to run out the clock and protect a lead.

Say what you want about the NFL becoming a passing league – and clearly it’s changed dramatically over the years – but even a decent running game can open up so many things.

RAMMING THE ROCK - DeMarco Murray grinds out 175 yards against St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule - Scandrick and Texas-2 Defense well rested

The Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense surely appreciates the rest.

WEEK 3 GAME BALLS: 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams

game center - Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

Offensive Game Ball: Offensive Line

It would be real easy to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray for his effort in this game, but without those guys up front, Murray would not have had the day that he did. Murray received his share of blame for his lack of production last week against the Chiefs, but he alone should not have shouldered the criticism. This Cowboys offensive line was outstanding today both in the run and pass. Murray had more than enough room to operate and Tony Romo was hardly touched as he sat in the pocket. Head coach Jason Garrett and his offensive staff have strived for balance, and they got it today from a line that hasn’t always been given the credit that it deserves.

Defensive Game Ball: Jason Hatcher

Going into this game, the Rams offensive line was expected to have problems handling the Cowboys defensive tackles. For the third straight game, Jason Hatcher was outstanding. For a player who had questions about staying consistent in this scheme, he has more than proved himself. Hatcher played with explosive quickness and power. He was disruptive on the move and was relentless in the way he attacked the pocket. His play did not allow Rams quarterback Sam Bradford any room to step up and make a throw. Hatcher was quick to shed blocks, and he was technique-sound the entire day. His play overall caused this Rams’ offensive scheme huge issues.

Coaches Game Ball: Rod Marinelli

The Rams were going to have trouble running the ball, which meant that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and his troops were going to have to play the majority of the game rushing the passer. Bradford put the ball up 49 times for St. Louis with an average gain of only 3.6 yards per completion. Bradford was never comfortable in the pocket, and it started on the opening series and did not end until the final whistle. Despite playing shorthanded without Anthony Spencer, Marinelli’s group put on quite a show. There was a slot blitz or two mixed in from Orlando Scandrick, but the majority of the pressure came from a four-man rush. Marinelli has always preached quickness off the snap and to get up the field as quickly as you can. He did an outstanding job of rotating his defensive line, and they rewarded him with a dominating performance against a Rams club that has some explosive offensive weapons, totally holding them in check. Today, it started up front with his guys. 

COWBOYS CORRAL RAMS: DeMarco Murray leads 31-7 rout with 175 rushing yards

COWBOYS CORRAL RAMS - DeMarco Murray leads 31-7 rout with 175 rushing yards

ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray found the perfect antidote for his recent malaise: the St. Louis Rams.

Murray rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown two years after torching St. Louis with a franchise record as a rookie, and Tony Romo threw for three scores in a 31-7 victory Sunday.

Murray’s first 100-yard game in more than a year started with a 14-yard run on Dallas’ first offensive play, and he had plenty of open space on a 36-yarder to start Dallas’ second drive to a 10-lead late in the first quarter.

Sam Bradford, Murray’s old college teammate at Oklahoma, didn’t have nearly as much room to operate.

The Cowboys (2-1) sacked him four times in the first half and had six in total after St. Louis (1-2) hadn’t allowed a sack in four games dating to last season. It was the longest streak for the Rams since John Hadl was under center for a division champion in 1973.

Bradford still went 29 for 48 and was not intercepted.

DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and broke Harvey Martin’s 30-year-old franchise record of 114.

The Rams, trying for their first 2-1 start since 2006, had just 18 yards total offense in the first half compared to 96 for Murray alone. The Cowboys had 202 yards before halftime.

Romo, who had 217 yards passing, went 2 yards to Dez Bryant for the first Dallas score. He had a pair of 24-yarders in the second half to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris, who bounced back from a muff on the game’s first punt.

When the Rams finally started getting defenders around Murray at the line of scrimmage, Romo found him on the outside for a pair of catches on a drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Murray for a 17-0 lead. Murray, who had 253 yards against the Rams in 2011, went around left end before extending the ball over the goal line right on the pylon, and there was no review. His last 100-yard game was the 2012 opener, and he was coming off a 25-yard performance in a loss at Kansas City.

St. Louis avoided the shutout on Bradford’s 4-yard pass to Austin Pettis on fourth down late in third quarter after an interception by rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Jason Hatcher.

The Rams had a chance to stay in the game on their next drive, but Bradford threw behind Chris Givens while Givens on fourth down. Dallas scored three plays later for a 31-7 lead when Romo hit Harris in stride in the back of the end zone.

Tavon Austin had an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown called back by a holding penalty. The Rams also were penalized for a blind-side block that laid out Dallas’ Kyle Wilber, who stayed down for a few minutes before leaving the field on his own.

RUNNING LANE PAINS: Callahan to call upon DeMarco Murray more often

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IRVING, Texas – However prepared Bill Callahan is to call Sunday’s gameplan against the Rams, he’s certainly prepared to answer the inevitable questions about it.

The whirlwind of questioning about the Dallas Cowboys offense – from playcalling to the ineffectiveness of the running game – turned its attention to Callahan on Thursday after moving past Jason Garrett and Tony Romo earlier in the week.

In his first season as the Cowboys’ playcaller, Callahan seemed well-prepared for the second-guessing that comes with a head-scratching loss to the Chiefs last weekend.

“We just felt like there were some real matchups that we liked in that game, and we wanted to go with that. That’s the way it played out, and when it doesn’t play out, that’s a part of the job. I shoulder that, and I don’t shun that responsibility whatsoever,” he said. “Going forward, we’re trying to put together a run gameplan we can all be proud of and we all like, and we can hopefully get to that balance that we’re looking for.”

Most of the expectation to fix the Dallas running game, which ranks 26th in the league with just 62 yards per game, is going to fall on Callahan. It’s a line that has been repeated around Valley Ranch to this point in the season, but Callahan said the offense can’t get too caught up in meeting quotas as opposed to doing what works.

“By and large it’s circumstantial – we just took advantage of some opportunities that existed and we went after coverage and honestly some coverages that we liked,” Callahan said. “It’s not that we didn’t want to run it, it’s just that during the course of a game, you’re going to go ahead and attack a defense in a certain way and a certain manner.”

Garrett fielded the question earlier on Thursday, and Romo faced it when he talked to reporters Wednesday: at what point do you decide between taking what the defense gives you and running purely for the sake of the running game.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be able to run when they’re playing the run, and you’ve got to be able to pass when they’re playing the pass,” Garrett said.

Callahan added on to that Thursday afternoon with the thought that the running game doesn’t always have to look like a running game – an idea that might explain the prevalence for short passes in the first two weeks of the season.

“There’s so many aspects of running the football – there’s play action, there’s run action, there’s movement passes. There are numerous things that can equate to a run as well,” he said. “It could be the screen game, it could be the check down system, whatever that may be – in the passing game, that it really becomes like a run. Sometimes I think that gets kind of lost in translation.”

He did stress that he didn’t mean that as an excuse, however. With 39 attempts through two games, Dallas ranks 27th in the league in rushes – a stat he conceded isn’t good enough even if the Cowboys are using other means of moving the ball.

“We’ve got to do a better job — I’ve got to do a better job calling more runs,” he said. “So that’s something that we’re working hard on.” 

He added:  “No excuses, but we have to run it more and we’ve got to put it in DeMarco’s hands, because he’s capable of doing a lot of great things.”

As has widely been speculated, the return of Brian Waters to a large in-game role may help rejuvenate the rushing attack. Callahan said Waters has adapted quickly – an impressive accomplishment, given the required cohesion between offensive linemen — because he is familiar with the Cowboys’ system.

That said, the Cowboys’ playcaller seemed to embrace the responsibility for the offense’s success or failure, as he avoided calling out the offensive line. Callahan said the playcalling needs to improve – something there’s still plenty of time for, he added.

“We like our line — our line is physical. But we’ve got to do a better job calling it, and I’ve got to do a better job personally, and that’s my responsibility – one that I own up to and one that we all want to get better at,” he said. “But we’re working hard, our guys still believe and it’s still early on in this season to build our run game and get to where we want to go. But as we all know, talk is cheap and we’ve got to put it into action.”

PRE-RAMMED RIBS: Tony Romo planning on injection before Rams matchup

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will likely get another shot for his ribs before the matchup against the Rams this weekend.

Romo, who injured his ribs in the opener against the Giants, got a shot before Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. He said it already feels better now than it did the last few days, and he imagines it’ll keep getting better as days pass.

“Too early to tell right now, but I think tentatively we were planning on (getting another shot), just because of the nature of it and what we thought,” Romo said. “But we’ll see when we get there.”

Romo went 30-for-42 with a touchdown and no interceptions against the Chiefs, but he also threw three straight incompletions on back-to-back fourth quarter possessions on short passes. He didn’t blame anything from that performance on the ribs.

“I don’t know if that was a part of it,” Romo said. “I’ve gotten shot up before for a rib. That seems like it’s a normal part of playing quarterback in the National Football League.”

He said when a player steps on the field, the only thing that matters is winning, so the ribs aren’t much of an excuse. The shot for the ribs usually works for between three to five hours, according to Romo.

An effective running game could help him from getting in situations where he’s taking more hits to the mid-section. The Cowboys haven’t been able to run the ball consistently since the start of last year.

“You’re always trying to run the football effectively and trying to also keep the defense from teeing off on you and attacking the quarterback and things of that nature,” Romo said. “You’ve got to weigh it. I think more than anything, it’s about production. We’re trying to figure out different ways to do some things in the future to continue to get better and better about it.”

Romo said the Cowboys’ mentality is to take what the defense gives them. He said that’s the reason Dez Bryant caught as many passes as he did. Romo intimated he doesn’t want to keep a running play on when the numbers don’t suggest it’ll work.

“It’d be silly just to run the ball to where you can’t block an extra guy,” he said. “That’s part of the game. Some people are doing that and leaving Dez by himself if you’re going to do that. Defenses have to decide what they’re going to give up. Sometimes it can be a big benefit.

“The other point is when you’re trailing late in the game, you’re never going to run the ball as much as you want. When you’re ahead late in the game, you’re always going to get extra runs, more than you probably did throughout the game. Every game’s going to come down to a little bit of that.”

2013 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Dallas Cowboys vs. Saint Louis Rams

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The Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams show similarities after the first 2 weeks

Cowboys

With the first loss of the season out of the way, the Cowboys can now go about assessing how they respond to it. During the past two 8-8 seasons, the team has never lost more than two games in a row, but they have lost two in a row on six different occasions.

The Cowboys’ ability to run the ball – or lack thereof – is going to dominate the discussion all week after the loss to the Chiefs. Regardless of anything else, 37 rushing yards probably won’t beat many NFL teams.

Coach Jason Garrett stressed early in the week that the running game has to improve, and perhaps a large role from Brian Waters could help that. Perhaps the Cowboys can rediscover some of the 2011 magic that helped then-rookie running back DeMarco Murray set the franchise rushing record of 253 yards against the Rams three seasons ago.

The Rams haven’t been quite as careful with the ball as the mistake-free Chiefs. St. Louis has given the ball away three times in two games – the same as Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense is going to have to find a way to take a ball or two away, as everyone saw last week how tough it is to win with a negative turnover margin.

Defensive end Anthony Spencer received a good amount of playing time against Kansas City, and he was moderately effective. It looks likely that the 2012 Pro Bowler will follow the same routine from last week and look to suit up again Sunday.

Rams

The Dallas Cowboys might be hoping they run the ball like they did against the 2011 Rams, but these are not the 2011 Rams.

For starters, they can stop the run, as they held Atlanta to 36 yards on 16 carries in a close loss Sunday. The Rams have only allowed 122 rushing yards on 42 attempts through two games, which is sixth-best in the NFL and a far cry from the average of 152 yard per game they allowed in 2011. 

These Rams also have Sam Bradford, who missed six games, including the Cowboys game, in 2011. Bradford is off to a hot start and with the help of free agency acquisition Jared Cook and rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin, he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns.

Bradford’s 352 yards against the Falcons helped St. Louis rally from a 24-3 halftime deficit, though it wasn’t enough. His efforts were much more effective in Week 1, when he led the Rams 50 yards in the final two minutes to down Arizona with a 48-yard field goal.

Just like the Cowboys, though the Rams’ passing attack couples with a lackluster ground game. Leading rusher Daryl Richardson has just 98 yards on 30 carries – sound somewhat familiar?

Also like the Cowboys, St. Louis looks relatively strong against the run, but the secondary looks vulnerable. The Rams are allowing 330 yards per game through the air, which could open the playbook up for Tony Romo and Co.

WILD BILL CALLAHANDOFF: Dallas OC not thrilled with his last play call

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan wasn’t thrilled with his last play call Sunday. He called for a screen to running back DeMarco Murray with 16 seconds remaining with the Cowboys at their own 4. Murray gained 10 yards and time expired before they got off another play.

“Yeah, I’ve got to do better with that,” Callahan agreed Sunday. “I’ve got to do a better job of making a better call in that situation. Yeah.”

The chances were slim the Cowboys were going to get in field-goal range anyway, needing 50-plus yards and without a timeout. But quarterback Tony Romo said the Cowboys were trying to get in position for a jump ball for the final play.

“Ninety-five percent of the teams are going to be really soft in that situation,” Romo said. “You think you can get a good 30 to 40 yards to throw a jump ball. With that much time, you can get out of bounds to the 40, to the 50 and have a chance at it, so I thought that was a good call, and it gives you a chance, an opportunity to do that. They played a little bit of an aggressive defense, two-man, at that point, which you don’t normally see.”

HORSES SADDLED: Improvement expected in the Dallas Cowboys running game

IRVING, Texas – Through two games of the season, the lack of a consistent running game is once again a hot topic for the Dallas Cowboys.

But team owner/general manager Jerry Jones is optimistic things can turn around.

“I see improvement in the future in our running game,” Jones told 105.3 FM “The Fan” on his regular radio show. “I look at how much we’re improved in our offensive line. (Brian) Waters played good for the number of snaps he played. So Waters will be in there. That’ll improve us. I think we have flexibility with our tight ends. We’ve got some answers there … we’ll get it worked out.”

When asked about running back DeMarco Murray, who had just 25 yards rushing on only 12 attempts Sunday, Jones said he graded out well from the coaches film after the Chiefs game. He praises his professional approach and his physical size as a runner, and then added, “I’d like to see him have more opportunities.”

The Cowboys’ average starting position on Sunday was their own 21-yard line and had four possessions starting at the 10 or closer to the goal line.

“You’re going to be more conservative when you’re backed up like we were,” Jones said. “I want to credit (Kansas City’s) defense. They have a good front. (Dontari) Poe was the talk of the combine. There was a question about his motor but there’s not a question anymore. He did give us fits. Hopefully, there won’t be any more Poes.”

When asked about the differences between a Bill Callahan-called game and what the Cowboys had the last few years with Garrett, Jones joked it would take “five hours” to get into full detail of all the changes. But he did give some hints of what he expects to see more of in the future.

“I think we’ll see more play-action, more zone blocking,” Jones said. “You’ll see us emphasize the tight ends more. I think this Terrance Williams is really improving practice by practice. I think he can put some pressure on those (defensive) backs.”

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