DeMarco Murray: How Cowboys Can Compensate for RB's Potential Absence vs Giants
If you're a Dallas Cowboys fan, now would be the appropriate time to start getting worried.
Next on tap for the Cowboys is a critical division matchup against the New York Giants, who sit in first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys, tied for second in the division at 3-3, have already beaten the Giants once and could deal New York its third division loss with just two remaining.
But now, that is going to get a lot harder in light of the fact that the Cowboys are going to have virtually no way to run the ball on Sunday.
According to CBSSports.com's Nick Eatman, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones both missed practice on Wednesday. Murray is dealing with a sprained knee, and Jones has a bruised knee. Eatman also reports that while Jones will probably be a game-time decision, Murray isn't likely to see any action.
That leaves Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar to shoulder the load against the Giants, who are quickly shaping up to be one of the more formidable teams in the NFC.
For the Cowboys, losing their top two rushers in Murray and Jones is a big blow, especially given the fact that they really, really need this win in order to gain some ground in the division. Tanner has only gotten 22 touches this season for a grand total of 61 yards and zero touchdowns, while rookie Dunbar has rushed once for 11 yards.
Guess the Cowboys are going to have to rely on the passing game in this one.
Fortunately for them, the Giants defense isn't exactly intimidating—on the ground or in the air. New York allows an average of 253.3 passing yards per game and 126.4 rushing yards. Last Sunday, in a nail-biter against Washington, the Redskins racked up a disturbing 248 yards on the ground against New York.
The pressure is going to be on Tony Romo and his band of wideouts this week. This team certainly can't rely on unproven running backs to get the job done in a critical matchup, but it can (possibly) rely on a veteran quarterback and his crew of receivers, some of whom finally seem to be living up to their potential.
The Giants rank third in the NFL in passing yards. It's not going to be easy for the Cowboys to keep pace with them, but given the fact that Miles Austin is coming off one of his best games of the season (five receptions, 97 yards and a touchdown), perhaps there's hope.
It would be nice if Dez Bryant could show up to play this week, because if there was ever a week when the Cowboys really, really needed him to be spectacular, it would be this one. Things were going well for him up until last week, when he suffered a concussion in the third quarter against Carolina; in the two games prior to that (both losses), he totaled 200 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys need to play their best game of the season on Sunday, and they're essentially going to need to do it without a running game. They're going to need to play like they did against the Giants in Week 1, when Romo threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns, and when Kevin Ogletree served as the bright spot on this wide receiving corps, finishing with 114 yards and two TDs.
It's going to be much, much harder this time around. But, hey, the Cowboys have done it before, and nobody thought they could beat the Giants back then.
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