Ellis: Romo No. 1, But Murray 1A As Team's Most Valuable Player

On a team with a couple guys who may very well end up in the Hall of Fame one day – DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten – it might sound a little forward to call the second-year running back, who hasn't yet shown what he can do over the course of a season, the Cowboys' most important player.

But next to Tony Romo – and maybe right beside him, literally – DeMarco Murray is just that for this team, which he showed again on Wednesday night. He brings balance, energy and a physical presence to the offense, and allows the Cowboys defense a chance to breathe. He makes life easier for Romo and the receivers, just as they do for him, of course, putting opposing defenses in a difficult Catch 22 of what to try to stop on a given play.

In terms of value and indispensability, he's right at the top of the list. The Cowboys have a great backup quarterback in Kyle Orton, and an additional pass rusher in Victor Butler who wouldn't be as good as Ware, but could probably rack up some sacks if he was playing every down. But at running back, the Cowboys don't have anything even approaching Murray. Felix Jones has had some good games, and is a nice complementary back, but he's not an every-down pounder like last year's third-round steal, and Phillip Tanner isn't the same kind of athlete.

Think of it this way. Remember all those games last year when the Cowboys couldn't protect a late lead and close out a win, against the Jets in Week 1, Detroit in Week 4 and the Giants in Week 14? Murray was either hurt, or relegated to a backup role behind Jones, having yet to get his opportunity. They let the Arizona Cardinals come from behind against them, too, but keep in mind, Murray got only 12 touches that game, and just two of those (for 11 yards) came in the fourth quarter. Maybe he should've gotten more, in retrospect.

But Wednesday night, Murray was a big part of helping the Cowboys build their lead over the first three and a half quarters, and then close it down the stretch.

Individually, he was a difference maker against the Giants, and individually he will be a difference maker for the Cowboys this season. Our cliché around here is that the Cowboys will go as far as Romo takes them, but Romo won't be able to take the team as far as it can go without Murray.

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