Cowboys running game stuck in neutral since opener

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 5:02 am •  Published: October 11, 2012
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IRVING, Texas (AP) — DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys' running game have been stuck in neutral since an impressive start.

The unit that ran for 143 yards in a season-opening victory is now 29th in the NFL, averaging just 68 yards per game. And the only reason the Cowboys (2-2) are even that high is because of what they did against the New York Giants in that first game.

Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday there are a lot of different reasons for the struggles, and that the Cowboys have to get better to be more balanced offensively.

"We've talked about some of the pre-snap penalties that got us in some bad situations in a couple of games. We had some minus runs and there are different reasons for that as well," Garrett said. "Guys getting physically beaten up front or on the edges or wherever they need to be. We've played against some good run-defending teams, where there has been a lot of movement up front."

Murray missed the final three games of his impressive rookie season with a broken right ankle, but came back healthy this year. There were also the additions of two veteran guards (Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings) providing more bulk up front and veteran fullback Lawrence Vickers.

Murray had 131 yards on 20 carries in the opener, the first time the restructured offensive line played together. Since then, he has just 106 yards on 41 carries. That includes two 11-yard carries, one for his only touchdown.

"Frankly, we haven't blocked as well as we need to and we haven't run as well as we need to," Garrett said.

Murray averaged 5.5 yards on his 164 carries last season, but is down to 3.9 yards per carry this year. Take out a 48-yard run against the Giants and his two 11-yard gains since, and he is averaging only 2.9 yards his other 58 rushing attempts.

Outside of Murray, the Cowboys have 18 rushing attempts for 34 yards.

"I do think we can be a good running team," tight end Jason Witten said. "We became one-dimensional. It's not an excuse for it, you can't allow it to get away from you, you've got to be better early on."

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