ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray didn't say much after the game. Murray did all his talking on the field.
Murray rushed for 175 yards to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
The Rams seem to bring out the best in Murray, who ran for a career high 253 yards over St. Louis two years ago, which was his rookie season. That was the day Murray unofficially took the starting job from Felix Jones.
In two games against the Rams, Murray has rushed for 428 yards, the two best game of his three-year NFL career.
“Yeah, it is a little frustrating,” chuckled Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, Murray's teammate at Oklahoma. “I'm really not sure why he has to do it against us, but he played really well today.”
Sunday's game was Murray's first 100-yard outing since the 2012 season opener. When approached by the media after the game Murray responded: “I'm not talking today, got to get home.”
When a reporter asked why, Murray responded: “It's personal, family.”
The lack of a consistent ground game has been a hot topic in Dallas dating back to last season.
Dallas entered Sunday's game averaging 62.0 rushing yards a game. Last season, the Cowboys finished 31st in the league, next to last, averaging less than 80 rushing yards a game.
“Our commitment to the running game, both in practice and during the game was excellent,” said Dallas coach Jason Garrett. “When you get a runner like that going you can feed off him. It gets contagious for everyone.”
Quarterback Tony Romo was more matter of fact when asked about the constant scrutiny of a lack of balance offensively.
“We turn off the noise, the television, the writers,” Romo said. “The story's going to be written again every week. We understand that. Some weeks you throw it better. Some weeks you run it better.”
One stat underscores the importance of a strong running game. The Cowboys are 10-0 when Murray surpasses 100 yards rushing.
“There's a lot of confidence in DeMarco,” said tight end Jason Witten. “It's been that way since day one. There's been a huge emphasis on the run game. It's good to see it pay off. Obviously, you're a much better offense, and a much better team, when you can run the ball like that.”
Murray's monster game overshadowed a dominant defensive performance, led by All Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who set the Dallas franchise career record with his 114th and 115th sacks.
Sacking Bradford six times, the Cowboys led 24-0 midway through the third quarter. At that point in the game Dallas had outgained St. Louis 310-34. The Rams had one first down.
The dominant performance came four days after defensive tackle Jason Hatcher made a passionate speech to the team, stating winning one game, losing the next, finishing 8-8 every season, is unacceptable.
“We came out and played great,” Hatcher said. “I'm happy. I wouldn't want to be in no other place. We've got great guys on this team and they responded well.”
Criticized for being mediocre in recent years — finishing 8-8 the past two seasons — the Cowboys might only need to be mediocre to win the NFC East this season.
Dallas is 2-1. The Redskins, who won the division last year, and the Giants, who have won two Super Bowl under quarterback Eli Manning, are off to 0-3 starts. The Eagles are 1-2.
“Before we start putting the bird in the coffin, figuratively speaking, I think we better wait and see more games played,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “This division could turn out to be strong as horseradish. It's early. These teams are evolving.”
And so are the Cowboys, who hope Sunday's game is a sign the ground game will consistently complement Romo and the passing attack.
“We'll have one or two games like this and you'll have one slanted the other way where you have to throw it more times than you want to,” Romo said. “That's going to part of a long season. But it was nice today to just give him the ball and let him go.”