Cowboys' ground game woeful minus Murray
BY SCHUYLER DIXON Associated Press
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
11/28/12 at 5:02 AM
IRVING, Texas - The Dallas running game is stuck in neutral without running back DeMarco Murray.
Of course, the Cowboys have also had a temporary center and backups starting at two other spots on the offensive line. And they fall behind almost every week.
Any of the above could explain why Dallas has the NFL's worst rushing offense, and one of the most overworked quarterbacks in Tony Romo.
"We've got to run the ball better. We've got to run the ball more," coach Jason Garrett said. "We have to be effective running the ball early in the ballgame so we don't get behind."
Probably easier said than done, particularly if Murray misses his seventh straight game Sunday night against Philadelphia. He last played against Baltimore on Oct. 14, when the Cowboys rushed for more yards than the defense-first Ravens have ever allowed in a game. That 227-yard day was marred by Murray spraining his right foot in the first half, and the Dallas running game hasn't been the same since.
The only time the Cowboys have rushed for more than 100 yards in the past six games, they barely made it, getting 101 in a victory at Philadelphia. Felix Jones led Dallas with 71 yards, but his next-highest total filling in for Murray is 44 yards. For the season, Dallas is averaging 79 yards rushing per game.
"It shouldn't matter who's back there," said offensive lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau. "We should be able to make it clean for them to make the read and hit the holes. We miss him, but at the same time ... there are no excuses. We have to get better."
Bernadeau signed as a free agent in the offseason to play guard for Dallas. The 38-31 loss to Washington was his second start at center while the Cowboys wait for Phil Costa and Ryan Cook to get healthy.
In Bernadeau's first start at center against Cleveland, left tackle Tyron Smith went out early with a sprained ankle and didn't play five days later against the Redskins. Jermey Parnell, an undrafted second-year player, took Smith's place, while veteran Derrick Dockery has filled Bernadeau's guard spot.
"We've had some injuries, but that's no excuse for us not being able to run the ball," said Lance Dunbar, an undrafted rookie who has overtaken Phillip Tanner as the third running back
The Cowboys could start by avoiding big first-half deficits. Dallas has trailed by double digits before halftime in four consecutive home games. Two of those situations were desperate - down 23-0 to the New York Giants, when Dallas had 19 yards rushing on 17 carries, and 28-3 to Washington, when the Cowboys had a season-low 11 carries.
Original Print Headline: Cowboys' ground game woeful
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Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar looks for running room as Washington's Lorenzo Alexander (left), Madieu Williams and DeAngelo Hall (right) pursue him during Thursday's game in Arlington, Texas. MATT STRASEN/Associated Press