A well deserved congratulations to DeMarco on a great game. For all of us Cowboys fans watching the way Murray ran and the way the O-Line blocked for him was a very pleasing sight, can't forget Fiammetta and Witten as well...as Murray said, a bus could've gone through that hole on the 91 yd TD run. As I write this post I will no doubt mention some of the more obvious attributes I noticed (and pretty much expected), but also I want to take a look at some pleasant surprises...
Murray's first carry came right around the 9:47 mark in the first quarter on a delayed handoff from Tony Romo. First of all the delay got the Rams LBs all thinking pass as they stood up and prepared to drop back and play pass. By the time the D tried to attack the run everyone was very well blocked, the oline and TE J. Witten had opened a massive hole allowing Murray to follow Fiammetta through it and Fiammetta picked up and blocked the one defender, James Laurinaitis, that had a shot at Murray before he was off to the races with only Mikell to beat, and he beat Mikell with relative ease. Murray's cut back against Mikell was a thing of beauty and he did it so fluidly while maintaining his pace, which is very impressive. The move I'm more impressed with though is the cut he made to get into that position. It appeared as though he initially was going to the right shoulder of Witten but he noticed the CB roaring down into that hole and he shifted his weight and momentum and took off to the left side of Witten. Excellent Vision and balance on both those moves.
On his second carry of the second quarter at the 7:51 mark Murray ran for a 4 yd gain off another delayed handoff. Far cry from the excitement of the 91 yarder but what I noticed on this run and on many others was that Demarco does a fine job of protecting the ball. It was evident pretty quickly that the D had sniffed out the delay and weren't fooled too badly and when he saw the limited room to run Murray wrapped the ball up and plowed his way through contact for positive yardage.
Two carries later with 6:05 remaining in the quarter Romo hands off to Murray out of the shotgun and Murray bounces it to the left and finds himself on a collision course with an oncoming defender but again displays the vision, balance and change of direction to evade the defender, turn upfield and gain 9 yes on the play.
On the first two carries of the second half at 15:00 and 14:18 respectively DeMarco did a good job of allowing his blocks to set up and then bursting through the hole available to him, resulting in a 6 yd gain and a 19 yd gain. The patience to allow the blocks to set up and then hit the hole makes a huge difference in gaining yardage, seems Murray has that patience.
At the 8:02 mark in the third quarter Murray took a hand off from Romo and was met in the hole by LB Chris Chamberlain who looked to have an adequate shot at DeMarco but Murray refused to go down on first contact, ran through the hit and gained a few more yards. Running through first and second contact will make him tough between the tackles.
On the 19 yd run with 3:31 to go in the third Murray again displayed his patience to let the blockers do their job and then showed his incredible burst through the hole before being pushed out of bounds by Mikell. He followed that up with a 5 yd run and a 6 yd run, both runs he again showed the ability to run through first contact.
Now for the run that most impressed me, at 13:53 in the fourth quarter Demarco received the handoff and ran off right tackle, he was met shortly thereafter by DB Josh Gordy and LB Chris Chamberlain, as Witten managed to steer James Laurinaitis just wide of the play. With the pair of Gordy and Chamberlain draped all over him Murray's legs kept churning as he kept fighting and kept driving forward, while maintaining good ball protection. It wasn't until a third defender, Mikell, joined the mix that Murray was finally halted and he actually fought Mikell for another 2 yds before being brought down. That more than anything is what I loved about Murray's game on Sunday and it's the same thing I love about Dez...the will to FIGHT and not just go down.
One run that displayed it all was the 43 yd run with 13:11 left to play. After taking the handoff DeMarco started off left but quickly bounced back right as there was nowhere to go. He could've been stopped for a 2 or 3 yd gain by Josh Gordy as the DB had a clear shot on him, but Murray lowered his shoulder and ran through Gordy's tackle, bouncing off and immediately turned on the juice and bolted upfield where Chamberlain and Mikell hustled to cut him off but he cut back without slowing down and left the two of them in his dust. He did tire at the end of the play and went down to avoid a costly turnover which I'm sure won't happen once he's really back to full force and in top shape, but I applaud the smart decision.
On his next carry Murray would take a pitch from Romo outside to the left allowing his blockers to set up, cutting back right behind a block and darting ahead to the Cowboy's record books. Congrats kid.
While I know "this was the worst run D in the league" and I don't expect to see those same numbers every week, there is one number I think DeMarco can reproduce and that is 25 carries. We have ourselves a RB than can carry the load, he has vision, speed and quickness, a relentless drive and he's much tougher on contact than he'd been given credit for. Looking forward to seeing more of him in action.