IRVING, Texas** – There's a reason DeMarco Murray looked as frustrated as any player Sunday as he whipped his helmet off his head following the first of two interceptions thrown by Tony Romo in the last three minutes.
Murray had 18 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown in the game, averaging 7.4 yards per carry and surpassing the 130-yard rushing mark for the second straight week, yet he got just seven second-half carries as the Cowboys watched their lead disappear in the final two minutes of Sunday's game.
"It was important for us to stay aggressive, and you can be aggressive running the football, too," said head coach Jason Garrett. "We were effective running the ball. That's why we look at in hindsight and say, 'We probably should have run the ball more.'"
Despite holding onto a 23-point lead at halftime and leading all game until 1:31 remained in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys still called passes on 19 of their final 22 offensive plays. Murray had four carries in the third quarter and three in the fourth quarter, one of which went for 15 yards.
The momentum started to slip when the Cowboys went three-and-out at their own 15-yard line with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter. The Cowboys called three straight pass plays, ending in a sack of Romo. The ensuing punt was returned 26 yards to the Cowboys' 22-yard line, and the Packers scored to cut the lead to single digits.
"That was a sequence where, when we look back, hey, maybe we could have run it one of those times there," Garrett said. "I think the next drive we threw it more. That was the touchdown drive we had, if I'm not mistaken. That got us toward one of the last drives of the ballgame."
Murray had just one carry in the last 12 minutes of the game. That carry occurred on a first down run that went for four yards with 3:02 left in the game, followed immediately by the first of two fourth-quarter interceptions by Romo. Garrett said it was the wrong decision by Romo to throw the ball and that the quarterback would be the first one to say that, even if the defense was playing the run. [embedded_ad]
Garrett said he should have done a better job, the staff should have done a better job and Romo should have done a better job.
"You have to overlay the situation that we're in," Garrett said. "Sometimes, it's OK to, on second-and-6, hand the ball off and take your lumps and deal with a third down. Force them to use another timeout and work that situation out. That's something we've discussed and we've handled it."
Though Murray looked furious after the interception, Garrett said Murray understood the Cowboys were trying to win the football game and complimented his top running back's effort. He also said Murray knows how much the staff appreciates him and how well the coaches think he's playing.
"We want to give him every opportunity we can," Garrett said. "I think he had 18 carries for 130 or so yards. He just played very well. I thought our offensive line blocked very well, both in protection and in the run game, and DeMarco certainly as the runner's a big part of what we're doing in the running game.