Cowboys-Rams: What we learned

Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

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.
"That's just a credit to the guys up front and DeMarco and what they did today," quarterback Tony Romo said. "That makes my job and everyone else's much easier. We wanted to run the football today."
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.
"Offensively, the most important thing we did was run the ball," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We were physical with them. I think we were stronger inside demonstrating that physical presence and giving DeMarco Murray the opportunity to run."
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.

What the Cowboys said
"We had great balance tonight. I thought the guys up front did a great job of opening up holes and creating holes for DeMarco and he did a great job seeing where it was at and putting his foot in the ground and getting vertical." - Quarterback Tony Romo.

What the Rams said
"I can't explain it. We are going to look at the tape and see what happened. Didn't expect to see this happen."-- Coach Jeff Fisher.

What we learned about the Cowboys
1. The Cowboys can run the ball with DeMarco Murray behind their rebuilt offensive line. Murray's vision was put in question leading up to the game, but he didn't have any trouble picking out holes against the Rams.
"When you get a runner like that going, you can feed on him," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He gets a little contagious for everybody. Everybody starts feeling it."
The third-year vet rumbled for 175 yards on 26 carries -- an average of 6.7 per carry.
2. Monte Kiffin's defense looks better every week. The Cowboys took advantage of six turnovers in the opener against the Giants and held Kansas City to 17 points last week. The Rams were completely held in check, gaining just 231 yards, going 1 of 13 on third down and getting sacked six times.

What we learned about the Rams
1. They can't afford to get off to slow starts. The Rams have done so in each of the first three games, putting them in position to play catch-up in the second half. St. Louis pulled it out in Week 1 against Arizona, but it hasn't been as lucky against Atlanta and Dallas. The Rams were down 17-0 at halftime, forcing Sam Bradford into the hurry-up to start the second half. The Cowboys, knowing what was coming, just pinned their ears back and teed off.
2. Missing Steven Jackson much? Bradford put up great numbers through two games, but the lack of a running game puts too much pressure on the fourth-year signal caller. The Rams had just 35 yards rushing on 12 attempts, with Isaiah Pead getting the most carries with six.
"We didn't run it, we didn't stop the run, we didn't throw it, we didn't stop their passing game," Fisher said. "I did not see this coming."

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