MIAMI – Given the amount of resources they've invested in their offensive line, this had to be the type of game the Cowboys dream about.
It certainly wasn't pretty. Sun Life Stadium was drenched in a downpour on Sunday afternoon, and both the Cowboys and Dolphins spent all day slogging through the muck.
Facing those rough conditions, though, Dallas flexed its biggest strength. They ran behind their massive offensive line 38 times to the tune of 166 total yards.
"We feel like we are a very physical offense," said Darren McFadden. "We know we have a very physical offensive line. Those guys did their job today and went out there and blew guys off the ball."
McFadden was clearly the beneficiary of that physicality. Despite being hindered by a groin injury, the veteran running back slogged away for 29 carries on the day and racked up 129 rushing yards.
Since seizing the starting running back job in Week 7, McFadden continues to handle the lion's share of the Cowboys workload. Sunday was the fourth outing of the season in which he has logged 20 or more carries. It was also his third 100-yard performance of the year.
"It was just a great feeling, man," McFadden said. "Like I say, that offensive line, those guys do amazing things up front. I just get behind them, just push forward."
When McFadden wasn't pushing the pile, the Cowboys got help from the unlikeliest of places. Robert Turbin signed onto the roster early on Wednesday morning, landing in Dallas just in time to go to practice.
Four days later, the bruising back got seven carries for 35 yards – punishing tacklers at every opportunity.
"It just felt like D-Mac set the tone early, and once he set the tone, the offensive line set the tone early and we were able to get into a groove," Turbin said. "We ultimately succeeded the whole day in the running game."
The fact that Turbin knew the playbook well enough to get onto the field was impressive in its own right. To see him rip off an average of five yards per carry was another matter. It certainly left an impression on the guy handing him the ball.
"The fact that Turbin knew the plays is pretty impressive. On top of it, I reiterated it on almost every play, but he already had it – he didn't even need it," said Tony Romo. "That's pretty special when a guy can come in and do that."
Turbin said it took countless hours of studying to feel comfortable. On top of that, his teammates were on week to help and quiz him on his understanding of the offense. That type of camaraderie had the new signing not feeling so new after all.
"These are some of the greatest teammates I've ever had in my life – always positive, they welcomed me with open arms," he said. "I don't even feel like I've been here three days, I feel like I've been here the whole season. That's how they've embraced me. When you have that, it kind of gives you the confidence to go out there and execute."
That's not to say it was all rosy. The Cowboys offensive line was flagged a grand total of seven times – four times for holding, three times for false start. Travis Frederick was the only starting lineman not to draw a penalty of some kind.
Those kinds of mistakes can be forgiven, though – especially considering how the Cowboys closed out their afternoon. The offense took over at its 13-yard line with 6:29 to play, and they wouldn't give the ball back until 1:09 remained.
With Miami focused on the run, the Cowboys pounded away for 42 yards on 10 carries. They picked up a key third down conversion on a short pass from Romo to Cole Beasley, but the rest of the work was handled on the ground.
"That's the favorite part of the game for me and the rest of the guys – just being able to go out there and just kind of grind the clock out, run the ball," said La'el Collins. "Pound it, pound it – that's what we love to do. We look to try to put ourselves in this situation every time."
On Sunday, it worked just like they drew it up.