DeMarco Murray Could Be the Dallas Cowboys' Difference Maker This Year

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIISeptember 6, 2012

He didn't play much in the two games against the Giants last year, but DeMarco Murray made sure he re-introduced himself to the defending Super Bowl champs on Wednesday.
He didn't play much in the two games against the Giants last year, but DeMarco Murray made sure he re-introduced himself to the defending Super Bowl champs on Wednesday.Al Bello/Getty Images

Take a moment to think of an answer to this hypothetical question before continuing:

What if DeMarco Murray never got hurt near the end of last year and missed the final three games of the year when the Dallas Cowboys fell fast and hard?

If Wednesday night's performance is any speculation, the list of possible answers could be a mile long.

While the unlikely lethal connection of Tony Romo and Kevin Ogletree was making headlines in the Cowboys' impressive 24-17 victory over the New York Giants, the second-year running back from Oklahoma returned to his post as the Dallas starting running back and proceeded to remind everyone that he can be the difference maker for this team going forward.

Murray couldn't play in the season finale when the Giants dominated the Cowboys in the NFC East title game last year, but his return to the lineup showed that Dallas presents a balanced attack that will have to be reckoned with this year.

Picking up where he left off last year before getting hurt, Murray carried the ball 20 times for a game-high 131 yards and averaging close to seven yards a carry.

Think of that: Murray carried 20 times for over 130 yards, and the dual running back attack of Ahmad Bradshaw and first-round pick David Wilson combined for 19 carries for 82 yards throughout the entire game.

That type of production shows two things: First, the Cowboys' run defense has more than improved from this time last year, and second, Murray is the X-Factor not lined up at receiver that this team has been looking for for years.

Taking into account that Felix Jones may be gone after this season, along with the occasional moments that Romo may have an awful game, having that luxury of a running back that can finally take the pressure off of the passing attack on a consistent basis may be the key that gets the Cowboys over the hump this year.

But, first thing's first: He needs to stay healthy. It was unfortunate that he went down the way he did last year with that fractured ankle, and if he stayed healthy, he could've been the first Dallas running back since Julius Jones in 2006 to rush over 1,000 yards.

If he can stay healthy and provide another year of fantastic production, a pay day may be in Murray's future come training camp next year. But the lack of consistency in running backs has been the biggest problem for the Cowboys in recent years with Julius Jones, Marion Barber and now Felix Jones.

Murray still has a lot to prove.

But without going too far into the future, the Cowboys were more than impressive against New York, and Murray's ability to get those extra yards in the second half was a big proponent into Dallas pulling away and leaving New York with the win.

And if he can continue this kind of production, that hypothetical question I asked at the beginning may turn into a different kind of question that may be more legitimate:

Could DeMarco Murray's level of play get the Cowboys to where they want to go this year?

Just remember before you answer: one week down, 16 more to go.