IRVING, Texas– A matchup against the Rams might be just what DeMarco Murray needs to help rejuvenate a struggling rushing attack.
Murray set the Cowboys' all-time record for rushing yards in a game against the Rams when the teams last met in 2011 at what is now AT&T Stadium, running for 253 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts for an average of 10.1 yards per carry in a 34-7 win.
Surprisingly, Murray said he only watched that performance the Monday after he played in the game. He said he doesn't like to dwell on the past, but it would help if the Cowboys could find the consistent success he had on the ground in that game and that season.
"It all starts up front in the trenches," Murray said on the Cowboys Hour radio show. "Our offensive line has to control the game. Our defensive line has to control the game. It only helps this team. It only helps the play-action. It only helps the passing game. The running game has to start with myself, and we have to have more opportunities to do that."
Murray's dominant day in Dallas against St. Louis on that October afternoon began on his first carry, which he took 91 yards for a score. That was his rise onto the scene in the NFL. He'd never carried the ball more than 11 times in a game or rushed for more than 34 yards in a game before that performance.
He'd go on to run for more than 130 yards in two of his next three outings after playing the Rams on his way to becoming the team's primary back. Murray said it's hard to say if that was his best game, but it definitely was by the numbers.
Murray finished with three games of at least 100 yards rushing his rookie year. He followed that up by rushing for 131 yards in the opener last season against the Giants, but he hasn't topped the 100-yard mark in a game since. He likely would have done so last year against the Ravens, in which he ran 14 times for 93 yards before spraining his foot.
It also hasn't helped that the line hasn't opened many holes for him since his rookie year, but he doesn't blame the group in front of him.
"I love our offensive line," Murray said. "Those guys get a lot of the blame, and it's definitely not deserving. I wouldn't want to play or run behind any other line in the league. They work hard. They'll get better, I'll get better, the offense as a unit will get better."
Murray hopes he'll get more opportunities to turn a stagnant rushing attack around, and it sounds like his head football coach is at least of the same mindset.
"DeMarco's a good football player, and we've got to give him more chances and we've got to run block for him better up front and on the edges and give him some chances to be successful," Jason Garrett said this week.
Injuries prevented Murray from many opportunities last year, as the sprained foot kept him out for six games. He put up a respectable 86 rushing yards and 4.3 yards per carry in the opener this season against the Giants, but followed that up with just 12 rushes for 25 yards against a stout Chiefs front seven.
He said the game's never as good as it seems when it goes well or as bad as it seems when it goes poorly once he watches the tape. He wants to correct his blitz pickup and a couple of his routes from last week, but he's confident everything will start moving in the right direction.
"You have to be honest with yourself and the team and move forward," Murray said. "It was a tough loss for us. I felt like we played hard. It was a physical game. There are definitely things we could've done better."
The Rams currently boast the No. 6 rush defense in the league, but maybe a matchup against a St. Louis team Murray exploited two years ago is just what he needs to get going again.
"You have to continue to have a great attitude," he said. "As a running back and competitor, you want to have the opportunity to have some kind of uplift. There are things we could've done better as a team. Obviously as a player, it's hard for me. I have to work hard this week and make sure I'm ready for the Rams game."