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ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys wins and losses seem to come on the heels of DeMarco Murray. When the Cowboys running back carries the ball 20 or more times in a game, Dallas almost always wins. In 2012, he carried the ball 20 times or more in three games–all wins. In the season’s losses, he carried it under 15 times each save for his final game of the season. In 2011, Dallas won all five games where Murray ran more than 20 times in the game.
It is clear that when Murray runs the ball, the pressure is taken off of Tony Romo to win the game by himself. Murray doesn’t even need to break 100 yards in those games, as Dallas won whether he averaged six yards a carry, or under three. He just needs the touches to keep the defenses honest.
Those weren’t blowouts either, as in two of those 2011 contests, Dallas won in overtime in one game and by one point.
Flash forward to this season. In the Cowboys win over the New York Giants, Murray ran the ball 20 times. In their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, who Dallas led throughout most of the first half, Murray only ran the ball 12 times. He was struggling on some of those runs, but Dallas gave up on the run too quickly and Romo fell apart at the end.
Now, this weekend, Dallas plays the St. Louis Rams.
While the Rams rank in the Top 10 in the NFL against the run, their only two opponents included an Atlanta Falcons teams that saw Steven Jackson fall to an injury early on, and an Arizona Cardinals team that has little in the way of running back talent. Meanwhile, the last time Dallas played St. Louis in 2011, DeMarco Murray broke the Cowboys rushing record with 253 yards and one touchdown.
Murray averaged 10.1 yards per carry in that game, which Dallas won 34-7.
Jason Garrett isn’t someone who looks to the past when making decisions about the present day Cowboys, but at his press conference this week, Garrett said that the Cowboys have to get Murray more involved in the offense. After the Chiefs loss, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said that the team gave up on the run too quickly in the game, a mistake he hoped to fix this week.
Dallas has to run the ball to control the clock and take the pressure off of Romo. DeMarco Murray is the man to do that. In Week 1 he averaged 4.3 yards per carry, and that is what Dallas needs here in week three if they want to hold on to their lead in the NFC East.
Tony Romo has a lot of weapons in this offense, but he needs to trust in Murray to move the chains against the high powered St. Louis Rams offense, or a second upset could be looming for the Dallas Cowboys.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.