Cowboys persistent with running game

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Improving the running game has been at the top of the Dallas Cowboys’ to-do list in the offseason, and Jason Garrett believes Saturday’s 24-18 win against Cincinnati was a positive step for the ground game.

It was not necessarily clean, but Dallas ran the ball 43 times for 154 yards, led by Joseph Randle’s 66 yards on 16 carries. DeMarco Murray, who was benched in the first half for a fumble that he recovered, had 51 yards on 12 carries.

“Bill (Callahan) did a good job just kind of sticking with the run,” Garrett said. “We had some positive runs. We had some negative runs and we had some OK runs, and did a good job staying persistent with that. I felt that was good for our football team. We’re stronger than we have been in the past and I think it showed as the game wore on."

The Cowboys ran it 34 times for 170 yards in the Hall of Fame Game against Miami, but had just 114 yards on 36 carries in the preseason losses to Oakland and Arizona.

Saturday wasn’t pretty in the first half, with 45 yards on 18 carries (2.5-yard average). The Cowboys ran for 56 yards on 11 carries in the third quarter when the first-team line was matched up for a drive against Cincinnati’s backups.

“Anytime you (run the ball that much), that’s a positive thing for your team,” Garrett said. “And we ran it with different groups, too. I thought each of the runners ran well.”