IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett wanted to send a message.
And judging from DeMarco Murray's response, it sounds like his running back received it loud and clear.
As the Cowboys were back on the practice field Monday, the buzz over Garrett's decision to bench Murray Saturday night for a first-quarter fumble had yet to subside.
Even though Cowboys managed to recover Murray's cough-up, it still caught the ire of Garrett, who hadn't quite recovered from watching his team lose three fumbles the week before against Arizona in a six-turnover loss to the Cardinals.
"We made a huge emphasis on taking care of the ball all offseason," Garrett said on Monday. "And after the game like (Arizona), we made further emphasis as a staff and a football team all week long, and then on the fifth or sixth play the ball comes out in the shadow of our goalpost. We can't have it. I don't care who you are. We can't have it."
Luckily for the Cowboys, Murray sees it the same way.
"As a competitor, you're never happy to not be in the game and compete," Murray said. "(Garrett) is a great coach. I'm always going to be behind him. Whatever is best for the team, I'm all for it. We know how important the ball is. I think there are different approaches to go about it. They chose to go about it that way and I respect that. I just have to take care of the ball."
The fumble occurred on the Cowboys' second offensive possession. But Garrett also admitted Monday that Murray had an assignment error that led to a sack on the first play from scrimmage.
So Phillip Tanner took the snaps on the third offensive possession and finished out the half. Murray said he was never told if or when he would return to action until the third quarter when he was sent back on the field. At that point, only the first-team offensive line remained in the game.
Murray responded with four straight runs and carried the ball on five of the first six snaps of the Cowboys possession for a total of 16 yards. He later had a 13-yard run and a 15-yarder on two straight carries and then on third-and-goal from the 7, Murray made one of the finer plays of his career, catching a screen in the flat before avoiding four defenders en route to the end zone.
"We thought (the benching) was the right thing to do, and he responded exactly how we thought he would respond," Garrett said. "He came back and played really hard and really well and he took care of the rock. DeMarco Murray is a really good football player. He's very valuable for our team." [embedded_ad]
Murray admitted he was frustrated by having to sit, but wouldn't go so far as to say he learned a lesson.
"I wouldn't say it got my attention because I know how important the ball is," Murray said. "You can't fumble. Since I've been in high school, college and even here, I've never been a fumbler. I'm not worried about it."