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Game Recap: Behind Murray, Cowboys Dominate Rams, 31-7
Nothing seemingly cures the Cowboys ills like a home game against St. Louis.
Two years ago, the Rams came to town and were handed a 34-7 thumping by the Cowboys. This time around, with 80,848 elated fans on hand, Dallas thoroughly dominated St. Louis once more, breezing to a 31-7 victory.
The star of the day? How about DeMarco Murray … again. Murray entered that 2011 matchup with only 73 yards rushing combined over the Cowboys’ first five games, but he broke loose against the Rams for a team-record 253 yards on the ground.
Likewise, heading into this contest, the Cowboys were coming off a loss in Kansas City that had seen them run for only 37 yards total, while Murray himself had earned just 111 yards overall in the first two games. Against the Rams this time around he finished with 175 yards on 26 carries.
For his career now, Murray is averaging 59.1 yards rushing per game against the rest of the NFL while averaging 214 yards in two games against the Rams.
But Murray wasn’t the whole show. Also doing its part was the Dallas defense, which controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish. The Cowboys held St. Louis to 223 total yards of offense, including a measly 34 yards rushing. Quarterback Sam Bradford was under pressure for most of the day with Dallas recording six sacks, including two by DeMarcus Ware, who in doing so moved ahead of Harvey Martin for the most career sacks in team history (115).
Meanwhile, in addition to Murray’s outburst, the Cowboys got 210 passing yards from Tony Romo, who also threw three touchdowns to three different receivers, Dez Bryant, Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris all putting up six points. Tight end Jason Witten got in on the fun as well, leading the team in both catches (five) and receiving yards (67).
The Cowboys went about their business right from the get-go as after one quarter of play, they were up 10-0 and had limited St. Louis to just 2 total yards while racking up 113 of their own. Dallas’ defense was stellar as the visitors could do little on offense. Even after Dwayne Harris muffed a punt at the Cowboys 34-yard line that the Rams recovered, Monte Kiffin’s men held strong, an Orlando Scandrick sack pushing St. Louis out of field goal range.
That was then followed on the Rams’ next possession by Ware notching his first sack of the game, the 114th of his career, which tied Martin for the most in team history.
But Dallas wasn’t just holding the advantage on the defensive side of the ball, as Murray and the offense seemingly did what they wanted, especially early on. Riding their lead running back, the Cowboys easily marched down the field on their first possession, Murray carrying the ball six times for 43 yards, a total that already surpassed his 25 yards in the entire game the week before at Kansas City.
While Murray did most of the work on that drive, Bryant got the glory has he created room from his defender – some would say shoved – to haul in the 2-yard pass from Romo and give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.
Dallas would put points on the board in each of its first three possessions, adding a chip-shot field goal from Dan Bailey on its next series for a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. They then opened the second frame with 10-play drive that went 67 yards in 5:50, Murray this time reaching paydirt himself, diving to the pylon to put the Cowboys ahead 17-0, which is where it stayed until the half.
And there was certainly no momentum lost once they came out for the third quarter. Starting at their own 20, the Cowboys handed off to Murray on their second snap, and the big back rumbled 41 yards to the St. Louis 33. The drive was then capped with a 24-yard pass down the right seam to the rookie tight end Escobar, who got behind the defender and into the end zone, the blowout on, 24-0.
The Rams started to make a little noise, but after completing a 26-yard pass on the first play of their next series, their longest of the game thus far, linebacker Justin Durant stripped receiver Chris Givens of the ball. Sean Lee scooped it up to give Dallas possession at the St. Louis 35-yard line, but an eventual 35-yard field goal try by Bailey sailed wide right.
St. Louis then took the ball down the field on their next try, and while Dallas had a couple of chances to maintain the shutout, the Rams did manage to get on the board when Bradford hit receiver Austin Pettis in the middle of the end zone for the score.
During the drive, rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, making his first NFL start, appeared to have his first career interception, but a roughing the passer call on Jason Hatcher kept the possession with St. Louis. On the other end of the spectrum, the veteran Ware notched his second sack of the day and the 115th of his career, the Cowboys’ all-time sack record now his alone.
That score for the Rams was really their first and final time providing any kind of threat, as the Dallas defense continued to wreak havoc. And, on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys got those points back with a fourth quarter touchdown, Romo throwing a beautiful 24-yard pass to Harris in the end zone, the game in hand, 31-7.
With the victory, and the Eagles’ loss on Thursday night, Dallas now sits alone atop the NFC East. The Cowboys will head to San Diego next Sunday to take on the Chargers, who are 1-2 after a 20-17 loss at Tennessee.