ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23:   DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys avoids the tackle of Quintin Mikell #27 of the St. Louis Rams at the Cowboy Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys avoids the tackle of Quintin Mikell of the St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Can we please stop the flashbacks to when a Cowboys player once torched THIS defense for such-and-such amount of yards?

It’s common fodder in the media business to harken back to the last time a pair of teams met, describe what took place during the game, and try to the results of that meeting could have some type of influence on how the upcoming meeting will play out.

The DeMarco Murray game vs. St. Louis in 2011 is a perfect example. Pundits will tell you that this could be a preview of things to come this weekend. In case you forgot, Murray ran roughshod all over St. Louis, setting a franchise record for 253 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. It was a terrific game, and one that Cowboys fans won’t soon forget…But that matchup means absolutely nothing in relation to the game that will take place this Sunday.

In fact, when you look at the difference between that Rams team and the 2013 version, there’s reason to doubt whether or not Murray will even amass a quarter of what he accomplished 2 years ago. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • In 2011, the Rams started the season 0-5 before they faced the Cowboys. Their defense was giving up, on average, over 400 yards per game, including 160 on the ground. Through 2 games this season, the team’s 390 ypg allowed doesn’t seem to indicate much change. But there is one major difference : the 2013 version has been terrific against the run – opponents have just 122 TOTAL yards against them on the ground.
  • In 2011, the Rams had just three players starting for their defense that were drafted higher than the 4th round, and one of them was a 2nd rounder from back in 2000. In fact, that season the Rams started 4 players on the defensive side of the ball that went undrafted. The team has since addressed their shortcomings through the draft in the last few seasons…The 2013 Rams are sporting four 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders, and three 3rd rounders in their starting 11. In addition, the lone 7th rounder on their team? That would be former pro-bowler Cortland Finnegan.
  • The average age of the 11 starters for the Rams in 2011 was 28.4 years old. They had 5 players over the age of 30, and 3 of those were on the defensive line, the most important aspect of a defense when trying to stop the run. What’s the average age of the 2013 defensive starters? Exactly three years younger, at 25.4 years old.
  • Jeff Fisher took over at the beginning of the 2012 season for his 21st as a head coach. In 13 of those seasons, Fisher owned a top 10 defense against rushing yards. In addition, his defense has ranked lower than 20th in just 3 of his 21 seasons.

The odd part about this matchup? The Cowboys offensive line is actually much better than it was a few years ago. That line consisted of Doug Free, Montrae Holland, Phil Costa, Kyle Kosier, and a 20-year-old Tyron Smith. But don’t expect much in terms of improvement over the past 2 weeks. This defense is as good as any they’ve faced.

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