The Dallas Cowboys face their toughest competition of the 2013 NFL season when the Denver Broncos come to Arlington this Sunday. While all eyes will be on Peyton Manning and the high octane Denver offense, there is one weapon that Dallas can utilize to help them win this game. The Cowboys need to rely on DeMarco Murray if they want any chance of beating the Broncos on Sunday.
There is a thought that the Dallas Cowboys have neglected to run the ball this season. In the loss to Kansas City, Murray ran the ball only 12 times. Against the Chargers, he ran the ball 14 times. In the two wins, he had 20 and 26 carries. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that, when the Cowboys run the ball more, they win. As a matter of fact, when DeMarco Murray has carried the ball more than 20 times in a game, the Cowboys have won every game since his rookie season.
The Cowboys can’t use the excuse that they could only run the ball in games they were winning, because they were winning the games with Kansas City and San Diego and still elected to continue throwing the ball. When Romo throws an incompletion, the clock stops. When Murray runs the ball, the clock keeps rolling.
Murray is averaging 4.9 yards per carry this season and, believe it or not, ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards through four games, only 65 yards behind Adrian Peterson. Yet the Cowboys barely let him touch the ball in their two losses this season.
Flip over to the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
The Broncos are a lot more balanced than people give them credit for. Manning has thrown the ball 159 times, completing 119 of those passes (74.8 percent). They have also run the ball 120 times. That means, when it comes to completions vs. runs, the Broncos have actually ran the ball one more time than they have completed a pass. However, while running the ball as much as they have, Manning is having a career season.
Manning is on pace to break the passing yardage record and shatter the touchdown mark. He is actually on pace to throw 64 touchdown passes this season, 14 more than the record. Plus, the Broncos are undefeated and are averaging 44 points a game.
In Dallas, Tony Romo has attempted 152 passes this season, completing 110 (72.4 percent), but the team has only run the ball 89 times. Romo is having a career year so far himself, and while DeMarco Murray is ranked third in the NFL in rushing, he is getting very few chances on the field. Dallas is averaging 26 points a game and is 2-2.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t need to run the ball just to limit Peyton Manning’s opportunities, but they need to run the ball more because that is what makes them successful. The reason that Dallas wins when Murray runs more is because defenses have to pay more attention to him, and that opens things up for the passing game, specifically Jason Witten’s opportunities.
When Murray runs more than 20 times a game, Dallas wins. If they leave him out of their game plan on Sunday against Denver, it could be a very ugly game because Denver will continue doing what they do best while Dallas will simply play from behind.
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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.