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Sunday, October 23, 2011
Updated: October 24, 1:36 PM ET
Dallas Cowboys ready to make a run

By Todd Archer
ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The easy thing to do would be to dismiss Sunday's win. After all it was just the St. Louis Rams, dude, to paraphrase the forgettable Pacman Jones quote from a few years ago.

But this is the Dallas Cowboys, bro, and nothing has come easy for them in 2011. They have had a maddening tendency to play down -- or up -- to their competition in recent years.

The Cowboys have not had such a lopsided win since beating the New York Jets, 34-3, on Thanksgiving in 2007.

"In this league, I think that's hard to do," said Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten of the Cowboys' 34-7 win. "Yeah, they're 0-6, but they played Green Bay pretty tough for three quarters there last week and that's one of the best teams in the league if not the best. I think when you control a game like that you've got to be proud of it."

TBD
Jason Witten had five catches for 35 yards and a second-quarter touchdown in the Cowboys' win over St. Louis.
But for only so long, which is why the smiles the players wore on the walk from the field to the locker room after the game were only so wide; the jokes only so loud and the relief only so much.

After six games, the Cowboys are 3-3 and a game out of first place in the NFC East behind the New York Giants. Cry if you want about the missed opportunities against the New York Jets, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots, but measure that against the losses-turned-wins against the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.

"Where we go from here only time will tell," cornerback Terence Newman said. "You know, string some wins together, that would be huge. I think that would be a big thing to try to do, string a couple of wins together and do what we set out to do before the season."

Had the Cowboys not blown out winless St. Louis on Sunday, so many questions would remain unanswered. This type of win has the Cowboys on an uptick.

The Cowboys not only ran the ball, but running back DeMarco Murray had an afternoon that Emmitt Smith, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Don Perkins and Calvin Hill never had. The rookie had a franchise-record 253 yards on 25 carries, including a 91-yard touchdown run on his first carry.

Tony Romo only threw for 166 yards, but he had two touchdown passes and did not turn the ball over. Wide receiver Dez Bryant got involved in the second half and scored a touchdown. The offense scored touchdowns on three of four red-zone possessions and held the ball for 33 minutes, 56 seconds.

The defense gave up a season-low 13 first downs, allowed the Rams to convert on only five of 15 third- and fourth-down tries, kept running back Steven Jackson under control and did not allow A.J. Feeley to pull off the surprise in Sam Bradford's absence.

For the fourth time this season, the Cowboys forced multiple turnovers with a fumble recovery and an interception.

They have a reliable kicking game, too. Rookie Dan Bailey has made 16 straight field goals.

And now comes the fun part.

Those who want to follow Jason Garrett's "be great today" belief -- and that is the entire locker room, by the way -- might want to skip the following paragraph. Consider this your warning.

The Cowboys' next six opponents are a combined 12-24. Only one team has a winning record, Buffalo (4-2) which visits Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 20. The others are Philadelphia (2-4), Seattle (2-4), Washington (3-3), Miami (0-6) and Arizona (1-5).

Leave it to owner and general manager Jerry Jones to put it in perspective rather confusingly.

"We've got a team that can get out of contention with our record," Jones said. "But if we can be in contention, we've got a team that can be better.

Allow me to decipher Jones-ese: the Cowboys have a chance to put themselves in position to contend for a playoff spot and more if they take care of business. And the taking care of business part should not be as easy as it was against the Rams.

Sunday was the first step and perhaps the most critical.

"It's time to make a run," DeMarcus Ware said as he walked to his field-level suite after the game. "I feel like that's what we have to do."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.