Dallas ground game stuck in neutral without Murray

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

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. "We've been working on it, trying to figure out things that are helping us and hurting us and just trying to fix things."

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.

Dallas abandoned the run for obvious reasons against Washington, but also leaned heavily on Romo while facing just a 13-0 deficit the previous game against Cleveland. It made sense because the Cowboys had 17 rushing yards on eight carries in the first half. Dallas ran just six times on three straight scoring drives in the second half, sending Romo on his way to 112 passes in a five-day span.

Romo has 456 pass attempts, or 41 per game, second only to Detroit's Matthew Stafford.

"What you're trying to do is find some plays you like and execute them," Garrett said. "You've got to be careful about saying, 'I'm going to lean on Tony and let him kind of go save the day.' It's too challenging of a position to do that."

Garrett doesn't want to wait for Murray to save the day either.

"We have to be able to run the ball if he's not able to go," Garrett said. "That's with Felix, that's with Dunbar, that's with Tanner, whoever's the runner. We just have to do a better job."

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