IRVING, Texas – The sacks, interceptions, turnovers and passing stats may change every week. DeMarco Murray's historic start to the 2014 season does not.
Murray rushed for at least 100 yards for the fifth straight game Sunday against the Texans and is one of just three players in NFL history to accomplish that feat in each of the first five games of an NFL season, along with Jim Brown (1958) and O.J. Simpson, who did it in 1973 and 1975.
The Cowboys running back will now be mentioned alongside those elites. He said he's "just trying to come out here and play and get wins," but whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, he's running at a record pace.
Murray's not one to necessarily model his game after the past legends of the game, and he continues to give most of the credit to his offensive line, but he did note the respect he has for players such as Brown and Simpson.
"Those are pioneers at the running back position," Murray said. "You know they did a lot of great things for the position and for the NFL. A lot of respect for those guys."
Murray rushed for 136 yards on a career-high 31 carries Sunday. Through five games and prior to the Monday Night Football contest between the Redskins and Seahawks, Murray has 210 more rushing yards and 36 more carries than any other NFL player.
When asked what the difference is this year, Murray didn't make it about himself. He took it as a question about the team, and promptly referenced the defense and special teams.
But the Cowboys coaches are giving Murray the opportunities every week that he never consistently had in years prior. He's taking advantage of them – even if he's giving the credit elsewhere, to the tight ends and Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Dwayne Harris.
"The offensive line's playing well," Murray said. "The tight end's blocking well on the edge. Like I said before, Dez and Terrance and Dwayne, great receivers blocking downfield."
No other Cowboys player has strung together five straight 100-yard rushing performances. On a franchise that includes the likes of Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker, it's Murray's 670 rushing yards through five games of the NFL season that's set the team record.
The Cowboys are 15-1 all-time when Murray has 20 or more carries now, and Murray's gotten the opportunity to rush at least 20 times each of the first five games this year. In addition to his rushing ability and blocking ability, Murray demonstrated Sunday how vital he is in the passing game with six catches for 56 yards, setting up Dan Bailey's first potential game-winning field goal attempt.
It wasn't always easy sledding, and Murray complimented the Texans' front seven for making it a physical game with a lot of dirty yards needed to be gained, but the 100-plus yard output and success remained the same for Murray.
The only negatives this week were his fourth first-quarter fumble of the year and his failure to find the end zone for the first time this year. Murray was the fourth running back in league history to open the season with four straight games of 100 or more rushing yards and at least a touchdown.
Murray said the fumble was a good play by the defense as he tried to stretch for extra yards and got smashed by a second defender, after getting the first down inside the Texans' 10-yard line. [embedded_ad]
"You've got to know when you're down and you can't fight for extra yardage on certain situations," Murray said. "It's hard when you're running hard to think about those things, but sometimes they win and you've got to get down. Great play by them, bad play by me."
That was one of few mistakes by Murray on an otherwise exceptional week, once again. Head coach Jason Garrett said Murray has to do a better job securing the ball and no one knows that more than Murray, but he added that the Cowboys are going to keep feeding him the ball.
"It's obviously not the kind of rhythm that we want – turn the ball over in the red zone and then come back from that," Garrett said. "We've talked about that too much. But he's such a damn good football player. The biggest thing I try to emphasize with him is, 'Let's get people not talking about that…let's get people talking about how good a player you are,' because he's having a great year for us and doing so many great things."