For the past six games, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was missing in action. He was out with a sprained foot, and he seriously thought that his season was finished. According to a recent report on ESPNDallas.com, Murray questioned his ability to get back on the field:
After four or five weeks, I'm sitting there. It was feeling better after the first and second week, and then after the third and fourth week, it was at a stalemate, and it was feeling the same.
The good thing for the Cowboys offense was that his foot improved, and he was able to return to play against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. His final stat line for the night included 83 yards on 23 carries. He scored one touchdown and had a pretty long scamper of 27 yards.
It looks as if his foot is healing pretty well.
Before Murray went down with his latest injury, he pounded the Baltimore Ravens with 93 yards. But of course, that was six games ago.
Here, I’ll take a look at Murray’s success during his first game back and why the Cowboys offense is in desperate need of his services.
27-Yard Run Early in the Third Quarter
Murray's legs looked a little rusty in the first quarter, but that's to be expected when any player has been away for so long.
Before he popped for his 27-yard burst, Murray had a few short runs with a long of 14 yards. Early in the third quarter, Murray's vision, balance, agility and speed finally paid off.
Dallas faced 3rd-and-1 on their own 42-yard line. At this point in the game, the score was 17-10 with the Eagles up by seven points. A stop here could have potentially shifted the game's momentum and given the Eagles another opportunity to score.
As stated previously, Murray didn't have a huge amount of success running the ball, and Jason Garrett may have been close to abandoning the run altogether.
The Eagles muddled the line with six down lineman and five linebackers and defensive linemen standing. They were slanted—or overloaded—to the right side of the line as Murray was likely headed strong side.
As soon as the ball was snapped and Romo handed off to Murray, he ran to that side but was immediately met by a wall of Eagles defenders.
Here is where Murray's patience and vision come into play. He should have been stopped behind the line, forcing the Cowboys to punt. Instead, he was patient enough to wait for another hole to open and to see that fullback Lawrence Vickers was about to engage Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan.
Jordan played the strong side and seemed to have an open line to Murray. But Vickers snuffed him out and threw one of the game's most important blocks.
Once Jordan was engaged, that allowed Murray to bounce outside and use his speed to break loose.
If not for Murray's injury, I believe he may have ended up taking it for close to 40 yards. He went out of bounds toward the end of his 27-yard run because he ran out of gas.
Murray avoided contact, something he rarely does, and then seemed to limp off.
His run showed just how valuable he is to the success of the Cowboys offense. He has superior vision and patience to any other Cowboys runner, and it was on full display during this play.
I believe that Felix Jones would have found a way to make the one or two yards to grab the first down, but Murray turned what looked like a loss into a 27-yard gain.
This allowed the Cowboys to extend their drive, and it eventually led to a touchdown. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo found receiver Dez Bryant for a 23-yard touchdown.
Dallas faced another third down, and Romo had to scramble to escape pressure as the offensive line broke down, but he found Bryant for a three-yard completion. Bryant turned that into a 23-yard touchdown to tie the ballgame.
This all stemmed from Murray's gimpy scamper of 27 yards which set the Cowboys up for success.