ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — 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.
“When you talk about records with the Dallas Cowboys, being etched in stone with some of the greats – it let’s me know where I stand and that is at the top…and it feels great” said Ware.
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.
“We didn’t really do anything well today” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. “The 3 and outs and them putting their offense back on the field and the fall behind, just got out of hand.”
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.
“We had great balance” said Romo. “The guys up front did a great job of opening and creating holes for DeMarco. It was a great day out there.”
TE Gavin Escobar, who spent much of the game down field to open things up for Jason Witten, said he was excited when Romo took advantage of the Rams defense.
“They kind of screwed up with a formation, but the linebacker came over late and just had me open” said Escobar. “That’s usually not a play where I’m the go-to-guy, but you never know and have to be ready to catch the ball.”
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.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was very pleased with both the offense and defense saying “I can’t recall when IU’ve seen us play better.” Jones spoke with 105.3 The Fan outside of the locker room after the game.
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