IRVING, Texas – You can try, but you're not going to get DeMarco Murray to reminisce about his history with the Rams. As far as he's concerned, those two big performances are a distant memory – if memorable at all.
"Honestly, I can't remember, you know. I don't look at those games, because there's a lot of new guys on the team," Murray said. "Similar defense, but I'm not looking at those games. I know they're a lot better than what they've been."
That seems a bit hard to believe for anyone with knowledge of Murray's time in the NFL to date. He set a personal and franchise record as a rookie, when he gouged St. Louis for an absurd 253 rushing yards in 2011. That record-setting performance was a hot topic when the teams met again last season, and it seemed unlikely Murray would match that total again.
He didn't – he settled for a mere 175 yards in the second-best outing of his career.
Regardless of those numbers, Murray said he isn't concerned with his last two games against St. Louis. The Rams brought in a new defensive coordinator in Gregg Williams – a longtime colleague of coach Jeff Fisher – and promise to have plenty of new wrinkles for the Pro Bowl running back.
"I didn't watch any film of the last two years that we've played them at all. I watched them in preseason and their first two games," he said. "You get a feel for what they do and it's totally different, so we're excited about the challenge."
Fortunately for the Cowboys, Murray doesn't have to look back to 2011, or even 2013, to draw on a big performance – last week will work just fine. His Week 2 domination of Tennessee, with 167 total rushing yards last weekend, was the third-best outing of his career behind the two Rams games.
"We take a lot of pride in being physical, and the O-Line, it starts with those guys – running, passing, whatever the case may be," Murray said. "They do a good job, like I've always said, and you win games at the line of scrimmage."
Murray isn't likely to heap credit on himself, but the man calling his runs so far this season did it for him. Having watched him run through the San Francisco and Tennessee defenses, Scott Linehan said Murray plays like one of the league's biggest backs – even if he isn't one.
"He runs angry. It's a great compliment to do that because a lot of guys are running to daylight," he said. "DeMarco has that ability but he plays the game like one of those big backs that run with that fierce, tenacious kind of style."
Whether he actually runs angry, Murray wouldn't say, but he doesn't shy away from the physical nature of his running style.
"I just try to run hard and be physical and be smart," he said. "I just try to get as much as I can – you know, yards are hard to get in this league, especially running the ball. You've just got to run hard and play hard."
It'll be worth watching to see how Murray handles that workload if he keeps seeing this many touches. Last year, en route to his first 1,000-yard season, he averaged 15.5 carries per game. In 2014, he's averaged 25.5 carries after the first two weeks of the season. He has 51 carries through two games, which is roughly 24 percent of his 2013 total of 217.
Murray said he [embedded_ad]
feels fine despite the increased workload. But there's some tricks of the trade when it comes to minimizing contact.
"You've just got to know when you're down. There's times where you fight for extra yards in certain situations – you know, 3rd-and-1, third downs, short yardage and goal line plays," he said. "But there's other times where it'd be best of you to get down. You've just got to know when to take shots and when not to."
That should be good news for the Cowboys, as the Rams are currently allowing an average of 151 rushing yards per game. If Murray runs wild a third time, maybe he'll have to acknowledge something special at work – or maybe not.
"The past is the past. We're just concentrating on this year and trying to give them our best game as a team," he said.