DeMarco Murray sheds durability questions

ARLINGTON, Texas -- DeMarco Murray's day was done with 69 seconds to play in the third quarter Sunday afternoon.

The Dallas Cowboys' running back carried the ball 22 times against the Indianapolis Colts and shed a doubt that's followed him around since he entered the league: Durability issues.

A full 16-game season has eluded Murray because of injuries -- there has always been something wrong physically. But he played with a broken left hand Sunday, an injury that forced Emmitt Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, to miss a week of action.

Murray suffered the injury in last week's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. After undergoing surgery the next day, he decided he was going to play against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I'm not going to lie, there was a lot of doubt," wide receiver Dez Bryant said. "He probably wasn't going to play. I'm his boy. I knew he was going to play, he's an animal, he's a beast. It's what beasts do. If you can walk and catch, then go. That's exactly what he does."

Murray finished with 58 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Cowboys 42-7 win over the Colts. The Cowboys limited Murray's touches, employing backup Joseph Randle to take over on a few series as well as on third-down plays when defenses send more blitzers.

It wasn't like Murray played with a broken leg, but for a man who plays with such a physical style he needed to send a message -- in a contract year, no doubt -- that he can play with a broken hand.

"It affected me a little bit, it was hurting throughout the game," Murray said. "But I made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to play. I was happy to be out there and happy to do whatever I can to help this team win and it's awesome with the win."

Murray most likely won't reach the coveted 2,000 yard season that only seven players have accomplished in league history. Murray is 255 yards away from 2K, yet he's just 28 yards from tying Smith for the franchise's season mark of 1,773.

Murray's total (1,745) is second highest in franchise history and puts him in the MVP race. Bryant said the Cowboys have co-MVPs in Tony Romo and Murray. When it comes to toughness, Romo has emerged as a leader in that department considering he's playing with a bad back and cartilage damage to his ribs.


He moved up a level.

"Really tough," left tackle Tyron Smith said of Murray. "You can tell the type of player he is, physical. He's going to play."

Added guard Ronald Leary: "One of the toughest people I've been around. After the surgery he said, 'I'm playing Sunday.' There wasn't any question about it. I got a lot of respect for him."

The Cowboys have morphed themselves from a pass-happy offense to a grind-it-out, physical run-first team with Murray leading the charge.

On Sunday, he wasn't afraid to carry the ball with his broken hand, doing it on the first offensive play of the game and even joking that he tried to trick the Colts into thinking the right hand was messed up. He used the left hand to block defenders on the blitz and he stuck it out for a stiff arm when he ran through traffic. The only time he tried to avoid using it was when somebody tried to pick him up off the ground.

"He was reaching out with the other hand," Tyron Smith said.

After the effort he displayed Sunday, the questions about Murray's toughness won't be brought up again.