DeMarco Murray shows what Cowboys missed late last season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – While watching DeMarco Murray gash the Giants defense for 131 rushing yards, it was difficult not to wonder whether he would have made a difference in last season’s games between the NFC East rivals.

“Yeah, but we can do that all the time,” Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said. “But we did miss him.”

The Cowboys could have used Murray to close out the game after they got a dozen-point lead midway through the fourth quarter Dec. 11, but he had fractured his ankle in the first half of that game. He missed the rest of the season, including Dallas’ New Year Day loss to the Giants that decided the division.

There certainly weren’t any signs of rust from Murray in the season opener. He looked like he did all training camp: decisive, explosive and powerful.

Jones pointed out that Murray benefited from a few additions the Cowboys made in free agency. Fullback Lawrence Vickers and guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings make the Cowboys a more physical offense.

“Consequently, I think we’ve got a better chance to find some lanes and run the ball better,” Jones said.

That might be true, but there are also occasions when Murray makes his own daylight. That was the case on his spectacular 48-yard run to set up a field goal in the third quarter, when he should have been stuffed in the backfield but made several defenders miss before turning the corner.

Murray was the only Dallas tailback to be used in the running game, carrying 20 times while backup Felix Jones mostly watched from the sideline. The Cowboys improved to 6-0 when Murray gets at least 20 carries and 4-0 when he rushes for at least 100 yards.

“We need to keep him healthy,” Jones said.