Through two quarters against the Redskins Monday, Felix Jones and the Cowboys' running game was looking as pedestrian as it had the first two weeks of the season.
The question crept in, were the Jets and 49ers really good run defenses, or did it just appear that way because they had played the Cowboys? Entering Monday night, the Cowboys were averaging only 2.3 yards per carry, and that number barely crept upward in the first half, which they finished with 11 carries for 31 yards, seven for 20 by Jones.
After 10 quarters of the 2011 season, the Cowboys still hadn't logged a single run of at least 10 yards. And with the passing game struggling thanks to a handful of injuries, things were looking ugly. But the Cowboys came out of the locker room a different team in the ground game.
"We made some changes at halftime," center Phil Costa said. "We were running a certain play and then we changed it back, so it helped us run the ball."
Behind a 29-yard burst by Jones in the third quarter, and a 40-yarder he had in the fourth, the Cowboys had 94 yards rushing in the second half. Jones personally had 95, as six carries by Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray went nowhere. Jones finished with 115 yards on 14 carries.
"We just had to keep banging away," Jason Garrett said. "They're a very good defense. They're a very good front. They do a lot of different things to you, so you're going to have some ugly plays, you're going to have some minus plays both in the run game and in the pass game. We had to know that. That's the style of their defense."
Ironically, with the passing game stagnant, the Cowboys weren't able to abandon the run, as they've been accused of in the past. Even with Jones hurt himself, the Cowboys had to go back to him down the stretch.
"A real tribute to the guys up front," Garrett said. "Certainly Felix Jones coming into the game with a dislocated shoulder, not getting a lot of work in practice this week and playing the way he played throughout the ballgame.
"He did a hell of a job and it was one of his best games as a Cowboy."
We just had to keep chipping away."