IRVING, Texas (AP) — DeMarco Murray sped into the open field around right end, with a choice of taking on a defender or drifting toward the sideline.
So many times in his career, the bruising Dallas running back has turned up field and lowered his head. But not on this particular play Sunday against the New York Giants.
Murray easing up as he went out of bounds — he actually did it twice — leading coach Jason Garrett to have a rare moment of candor by saying Murray "needs to finish runs better."
Murray was mildly stirred by news of Garrett's remark — but not shaken.
"No, it doesn't bother me," Murray said. "Not at all."
Maybe that's because Murray's production in a 24-21 win over Giants was as good as any game all season, and he's on a bit of a roll heading into a Thanksgiving game against Oakland on Thursday.
It wasn't his best statistical day — that would be the 175-yard game against St. Louis, his only 100-yard day of the season. But the 6.1-yard average on 14 carries (86 yards) was second only to his dominance of the Rams.
Throw in the cold and wind on New York's home field, in contrast to the room-temperature comfort of the Cowboys' $1.2 billion stadium when he played St. Louis, and it just might have been Murray's best day of the season.
"I thought it was good," Murray said. "I thought the offensive line blocked well. Hopefully we can continue to do that."
Let one thing be clear: Garrett wasn't questioning his running back's toughness. He was probably just as surprised as anyone to see the key to his running game choose comfort over contact.
"It's not cowardly," Garrett said. "He's the furthest thing from that. Just watch the rest of the game. Sometimes you make a judgment about how you see a situation and make a decision. When you re-evaluate it on tape, you think, 'Maybe I could've done something different.' Those plays happen fast. You have to make a decision quickly."
For his part, Murray says he basically felt trapped and figured it was the smart thing to do. He's missed games because of injuries in all three of his seasons, so the next thought is maybe he's trying to protect himself.