IRVING, Texas – Months later, the dreams and ideas that have followed DeMarco Murray's success are beginning to take shape in reality.
It's impossible that anyone familiar with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 isn't aware of Murray's career year. Earlier this season, he set the NFL record for 100-yard games to open a season. He's been the NFL's rushing leader essentially from the get-go, and he's quelled plenty of concern about a workload unheard of in this pass-happy era of football.
All of these storylines have followed Murray through the hot temperatures of September, through the bye week and into December. In October, he might have shrugged the talk away. Days before a pivotal division matchup with the Eagles, he was at least willing to acknowledge it – if not focus on it entirely.
"Obviously, I hear about it, but I'm not thinking about it," Murray said. "Like you said before, I'm just going out here and trying to win some games."
There's plenty to think about, even if Murray is opting not to. With three games to play, he sits a mere 167 yards away from the Cowboys' single-season rushing record of 1,773 – set by Emmitt Smith in 1995. He's 394 yards away from a 2,000-yard season, which is a feat only seven NFL running backs have attained.
Asked about that fact, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he's not surprised, given Murray's abilities – though it's certainly hard to see that kind of season for any NFL running back.
"I don't know that, when I really look at the talent of Murray, I don't know that that's overachieving – but it's certainly more than we expected," Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan.
It's unlikely, but it's theoretically possible Murray could even make a run at Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105. He'd need to average a staggering 166 yards per game to reach that mark, though he did carry the ball 32 time for 179 yards in Week 14 against the Bears – a tally he said didn't bother him one bit.
"My body feels great – best I've ever felt after a game, all year," Murray said Tuesday during a visit to a local children's hospital.
That's got to be encouraging for the Cowboys, who had their worst rushing day of the season the last time they faced the Eagles. Philadelphia's front seven limited Dallas to 93 rushing yards – which doesn't sound bad, except for the fact that the Cowboys are averaging 150 rushing yards per game this season.
"On defense, they present a lot of challenges because they're so good up front," said Jason Witten. "They can move around, get pressure on the outside, and get pressure on the inside, too. If you look back at our game, we weren't ever able to get anything going."
The Eagles limited Murray to 3.7 yards per carry, making them the only team to hold him below four yards per attempt this year.
Regardless of those setbacks, though – or the massive postseason implications of Sunday's game – Murray didn't deviate from his trademark, even-keeled demeanor. The key he said, is not to overthink the situation.
"We know what's at stake. We can't make it bigger than it is," he said. "We've got to come out and not try to do too much – just stick to our gameplan, stick to our identity of what we've done in the past."
If the Cowboys do that, then Murray should have plenty to celebrate in the coming weeks – not that he will, unless those milestones come with victories.
"Obviously I think it's awesome to be in that position, but like I said – it's more about the wins than anything. That's what it's all about," he said.