ARLINGTON, Texas -- Something about the St. Louis Rams brings out the best in DeMarco Murray.
After two weeks of futility on the ground, Murray broke out in a big way to lead the Dallas Cowboys to an easy 31-7 victory Sunday afternoon before 80,848 fans at AT&T Stadium.
The third-year back ran for 175 yards and touchdown in his first meeting since setting the franchise rushing record against St. Louis two years go. Murray racked up 253 yards on the Rams in 2011.
The Cowboys (2-1) found little resistance running the ball or anywhere else against the Rams. Murray set the tone early for a team that had been prohibitively pass-heavy in splitting games with the New York Giants and Kansas City.
Tony Romo tossed three touchdown passes, and the Dallas defense had its most complete effort under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. The Rams had just 231 yards of total offense and didn't score until late in the third quarter.
After a pair of close games, St. Louis (1-2) was never in it Sunday. The Rams didn't get a first down until less than nine minutes left in the second quarter. After not getting sacked in the first two games, the Cowboys got to Sam Bradford six times. St. Louis was 1 of 13 on third down.
Even when the Rams did something right, something went wrong. Bradford's 26-yard completion to Chris Givens early in the third quarter -- their longest play to that point -- ended with a lost fumble. Bradford finally got the Rams on the board with a short scoring pass to Austin Pettis in the third.
Dallas is attempting to go 3-1 for the first time under Jason Garrett next week at San Diego. St. Louis plays host to NFC West rival San Francisco.
The Cowboys completely dominated the first half, taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room. Murray had 96 yards rushing and the team put up 202. Dallas held the ball for 19 minutes and totaled 12 first downs.
The numbers weren't pretty for the Rams, who had one first down and 18 offensive yards in 30 minutes of football. Bradford was sacked four times, including three on third down.
The Rams did get the game's first big break, recovering a muffed punt after going three-and-out of their first possession. Dwayne Harris charged and failed to catch a short punt, with Will Witherspoon falling on the ball on the Dallas 34.
The extra possession amounted to naught. St. Louis went backwards in three plays and failed to convert a fake punt on fourth down.
Murray carried the load on the first drive, gobbling up 43 yards on the ground and taking the Cowboys to the brink of the end zone. The payoff came via Dez Bryant, who hauled in a 2-yard scoring toss from Romo.
The Cowboys went up 10-0 on Dan Bailey's short field goal late in the first quarter. Murray's 36-yard cutback run was the key play on the march.
Murray punched it in for the first time in the second quarter, punctuating a 67-yard drive with a 2-yard sweep to the left pylon.
NOTES: Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware recorded his 115th career sack in the third quarter, passing Harvey Martin for franchise record. ... Cowboys rookie TE Gavin Escobar had his first career touchdown pass, a 24-yarder from Romo in the third quarter. ... Dallas inactives were DE Anthony Spencer, RB Joseph Randle, LB Ernie Sims, G David Arkin, T Darrion Weems, TE Andre Smith and DT David Carter. Spencer played last week at Kansas City, but continues to be hampered by a sore knee. ... St. Louis inactives: RB Zac Stacy, OL Barrett Jones, OL Brandon Washington , OL Mike Person, OL Rodger Saffold, TE Mike McNeill and DE Gerald Rivers. ... The Rams were the only team not to allow a sack through the first two games. That streak ended less than three minutes into the first quarter, as Bradford was corralled by CB Orlando Scandrick.