ARLINGTON — DeMarco Murray came into week 3 with 111 rushing yards. He gained 175 in one afternoon as the Cowboys captured an easy victory against the St. Louis Rams, 31-7.
Murray notched the Cowboys' first 100-yard game in over a year - doing it in the same setting where he ran for a franchise-record 253 yards in his 2011 rookie season. The team ran early and often, with Murray seeing plenty of holes to sprint through.
Tony Romo had a great day himself - completing 17/24 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. The team's defense was fantastic, holding a talented Rams scoring unit to 7 points - and only 3.5 yards per play. The Cowboys D was anchored by DeMarcus Ware, who notched 2 of the team's 6 sacks - breaking Harvey Martin's franchise record for sacks in a career. The new mark is 115, and it should continue rising for some time.
Behind a stout running game and stingy defense, the Dallas Cowboys absolutely dominated the Rams through the first quarter.
One week after gaining just 37 yards on 16 carries, the Cowboys leaned heavily on the run, and DeMarco Murray answered the call.
On the Cowboys' first drive, Murray gained 43 yards on 6 carries; more than he had last week when he gained just 25 yards on 12 carries.
Dallas cashed in on the drive when Tony Romo threw a fade route to Dez Bryant for the touchdown. The refs may have missed a Bryant push-off, but they didn't miss what they called a throat slash gesture after the touchdown, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Murray ripped off another big run on the Cowboys' second possession — a 36-yard jaunt that fueled a Cowboys drive and set them up with a first-and-goal at the Rams' 6.
The Dallas defense was absolutely suffocating early, allowing the Rams just 26 total yards in the first half. Only 5 of those yards came on he ground, and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford seemingly never had time to make decisions in the pocket.
For the half, the Rams were 0-6 on third down - largely due to the Cowboys' pressure, which yielded four early sacks. Murray continued to run wild, tallying his own two-yard score, and Dallas took a 17-0 lead into the half.
On the first Dallas possession of the third quarter, DeMarco Murray continued his big day, ripping off a 41-yard gain through the Rams defense. Tony Romo then hit rookie tight end Gavin Escobar for his first career touchdown, a 24-yard hookup that made it 24-0 Cowboys.
The Dallas defense continued to play well, forcing a turnover early in the quarter when Chris Givens fumbled after a catch and Sean Lee recovered.
The most memorable play of the third quarter, however, didn't involve a score, a turnover, or even a third down. 7 minutes into the quarter, Sam Bradford dropped back to pass and was sacked by DeMarcus Ware - Ware's fourth of the season and the 115th of his career - a new Cowboys record.
The Rams were able to avoid the shutout when Bradford found Givens in the middle of the Cowboys' zone on fourth down from the Dallas four yard line, making the score 24-7.
The Cowboys didn't take their foot off the throttle, however. Tony Romo found Dwayne Harris in the end zone, fit the ball into a very tight space and got a 24-yard touchdown for his trouble. Dallas took a 31-7 lead, and the focus shifted to running out the clock. The Cowboys ate time on their end, and when Saint Louis took over, they chewed up yardage - but did so inefficiently, reaching fourth down three times in the quarter and failing to score.
Quarterback Tony Romo knows Murray's big day helped pave the way for his own great performance.
'Anytime you only have to attempt however many passes we did today , your job is easier.'
Defensive Tackle Jason Hatcher was a force all game long and recorded a first-half sack. He was also the most excited man in the team's locker room.
'We came out and played great tonight. I'm happy, man. I wouldn't trade it for any other place, man. We got great guys on this team... we were supposed to win this game, and we went out and won it.'
Head Coach Jason Garrett didn't stray from his usual mantra: Take things game by game, and strive to get better every day.
'It's that relentless spirit. I ain't going anywhere, we ain't going anywhere, regardless of what the score is - that's when you're starting to develop the kind of football team you want.'
The Cowboys moved to 2-1 on the season, and now hold the top spot in the NFC East, which features a 1-2 team (Philadelphia) and two 0-3 squads (Washington and New York). Dallas will travel to San Diego next week for a matchup with the Chargers.