IRVING, Texas – DeMarco Murray has made a point not to complain about his lack of carries late in Sunday’s game.
That meant avoiding the media after the give-away loss to the Green Bay Packers, when he was “heated,” the term a couple of teammates used to describe Murray’s postgame disposition. And Murray was as politically correct as possible while talking to reporters Wednesday.
However, Murray was clear that he believes the running game has earned the right to close out games when the Cowboys have a late lead.
“I think that’s kind of what you want to do,” Murray said. “As an offensive line and the way we’ve been running, we feel like we can close the game out. But, once again, that’s up to [offensive coordinator Bill] Callahan, who calls the plays. He gives us great opportunities."
Just not very many late in games.
Murray has career highs of 178 carries for 977 yards and eight touchdowns with two games remaining, but he’s been handed the ball only 31 times in the fourth quarter this season despite averaging 6.0 yards per carry in the final frame. By comparison, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy have more than twice that many carries in fourth quarters.
Head coach Jason Garrett has acknowledged that the Cowboys should have run the ball much more after building a 23-point halftime lead over the Packers. Murray, who rushed for 134 yards on 18 carries in the game, had only seven carries in the second half.
However, Murray said he hasn’t had any conversations with coaches about his light workload late in the game.
“They don’t need to come to me,” said Murray. “I think there are some things we wish we could have done differently.”
Murray was especially upset after Tony Romo's interception to Miles Austin, which set up Green Bay’s go-ahead touchdown. That pick came on a packaged play that is designed to be a run with a one-route passing option for Romo if the defense loads up against the run, but Garrett said the coaches’ intent was to run the ball regardless of the defensive look.
After the play, Murray ripped off his helmet, screamed and slammed it to the ground in disgust.
“I mean, I think in that situation the offensive line and myself would definitely have liked the opportunity to close the game out for us and give us that opportunity,” Murray said. “I wasn’t mad at anybody. I was just mad at the situation. We let them come back and gave them an opportunity to win the game, and they took advantage of that. But I wasn’t mad at anyone or anything like that.”
There wasn’t a case to be made for the Cowboys to run the ball more often last season, when Dallas ranked second to last in the league in rushing. But the Cowboys have led the league in yards per carry over the last six weeks, when Murray has rushed for 549 yards on 87 carries, and rank last in rushing attempts over that span.
“We’ve got an opportunity to win the NFC East,” Murray said. “You can’t be mad about that. It’s a great opportunity for us. These are times you look forward to, big challenges like this.”