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Free: Gaining Bits Of Rushing Yards Keeps Teams Guessing

IRVING, Texas – The offensive line is no longer getting blamed quite as much as it did at the beginning of the year for the lack of offensive production.

Tackle Doug Free said as long as the running game is moving forward, it's much easier to keep the offense rolling and keep quarterback Tony Romo on his feet.

"We've got people kind of guessing at times," Free said. "Are they going to run it, are they going to pass it, which I think helps quite a bit. We've got to just keep working. It's not perfect yet, and it may never be, but we've got to keep working."

Romo has been sacked no more than once in a game since absorbing four sacks against Tampa Bay. The offensive line didn't allow a single sack last week against Carolina for the first time this year.

Ryan Cook will once again fill in for injured center Phil Costa against the Giants. New York's pass rush brought down Romo twice in the first meeting. Free knows the offensive line has its hands full against the plethora of Giants pass-rushers.

"They've got a lot of them, and they've got a lot of different styles," Free said. "That's probably the biggest thing. If they get a chance where they can pin their ears back and go, they're great pass rushers. They've got great skills."

The last time the Cowboys played the Giants, they were able to rely on DeMarco Murray to get the running game going. Then the running game fell into a lull for a few weeks before rising back up against Baltimore.

The Cowboys ran for more yardage the last two weeks than they had the previous three games. Though a rushing total of 85 yards at Carolina doesn't seem like much, that more than doubled the rushing yardage against Tampa Bay and Chicago. Almost every carry seemed to gain some ground, even if it meant moving only two or three yards at a time.

"Any time you get plus yardage, getting you closer to the first down marker, it helps," Free said.

The Cowboys have yet to put together a complete offensive game. When the passing game's in sync one week, the rushing game may not be. Maybe both seem to be working, but then penalties or turnovers set the offense back.

Losing Murray last week and Felix Jones for a portion of the game in Carolina certainly didn't help the running game, but Free said that's not an excuse. He said the player in the backfield, regardless of running style, shouldn't affect the way the offensive line blocks. 

"We've got to get better," Free said. "Sparks here, sparks there, but we've got to get all the sparks in order. It's good to be good in one area each week, but it's really great when all of it comes together."

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