Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/13/11
ARLINGTON, Texas Romance was in the air Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. And no, we're not talking about Bills receiver David Nelson and his girlfriend, Cowboys cheerleader Kelsi Reich. After a scoring a touchdown, Nelson ran across the field to gift Reich with the football and a hug. We're talking about a football romance: The Cowboys offense has fallen in love with running back DeMarco Murray. And why not? Murray merely provided 135 rushing yards and a touchdown in a 44-7 blowout of the Bills. Murray also caught six passes for 36 yards. It's not just the yards that Murray gets, it's when he gets them that makes him the object of affection for everyone involved with the offense. It's best summed up by the phrase, "You had me at first down." Murray's performance on first down Sunday made all the difference for the Cowboys. He made a beleaguered offensive line look like earth-movers. He made Tony Romo a better quarterback. He made Jason Garrett a better play-caller. It's easy to look good when you're getting 6.9 yards on first down out of your rookie running back. That's what Murray averaged, rushing and receiving, on 17 touches on first down. He generated 117 yards and put the Bills back on their heels. Even when they loaded up against the run. "When you can run against an 8-man box," tight end Jason Witten said, "that puts a lot of pressure on a defense." A back with Murray's vision, combined with the physical tools to take advantage of what he sees, is invaluable to an offense. "He does a good job just seeing the softness and finding the creases," Garrett said. "He has quickness and acceleration and he's done a very good job finishing runs." The tone was set from the opening possession. The first play of the game was a short pass to Murray that he turned into a 15-yard gain. On the next play, he went off right tackle for four yards. The Cowboys covered 80 yards on the drive which ended in a touchdown. But Murray had an even bigger impact on the Cowboys' next two long scoring drives. On a 78-yard touchdown drive, Murray on first down gained four yards off left tackle, seven yards off left tackle and caught a pass for 11 yards. On the following 80-yard scoring drive, here are Murray's first-down touches: up the middle for three yards, over left end for four, up the middle for four, over left guard for one. The one-yard carry at the end was on first-and-goal from the one. When was the last time anyone remembers the Cowboys scoring so easily from inside the five? With a running play up the middle? Seems like eons. Actually, it seemed a lot like 19 or so years ago, when Emmitt Smith gave the Cowboys a running option on the goal line. Smith was also adept at getting yards on first down. As Troy Aikman has said often, giving the ball to Smith on first down made second and third down a lot easier. The play-calling options for second-and-medium or second-and-short are measurably greater than on second-and-nine. Third-and-short is a lot easier, too, with a productive running back. "He is, and should be, inspirational," owner Jerry Jones said. "I think we have to feel good about what he is going for the offensive line. I used to say that as much as we thought about our offensive line when Emmitt was here, it was also Emmitt making our offensive line." Another sign of Murray's effectiveness: He got stronger as the game wore on. During a fourth-quarter scoring drive, Murray's first down touches were: off left tackle for six yards, left tackle again for six, around left end for 12 and again around left end for 11. Romo said one of the best things about having a running game with Murray is the ability to close out games. That's something the Cowboys couldn't do earlier this season, before Murray's emergence because of a Felix Jones injury, when they had a 27-3 lead on the Lions and lost, 34-30. This time, with Murray in the backfield, everyone in the stadium knew the game was all but over with the Cowboys holding a 28-7 lead at halftime. "You get a lead and you can run the ball like that, games get shortened very quickly," Romo said. "He Murray did a great job today, him and Philip Tanner and the O-line. It's easy to play almost a half to three-quarters of a game and let those guys finish it." It's also easy for a team to fall in love with a back like Murray. Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
Who's the worst QB in the NFL right now?
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA fines Dwyane Wade $25K for throat-slash gesture in win against Celtics

Report: Seahawks, Vikings, Colts to be ‘players’ at trade deadline

Former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer battling Alzheimer’s disease

Jamaal Charles (knee) to miss Sunday’s game against Colts

Report: C.J. Anderson will be in recovery for ‘months’


Indians' Roberto Perez reveals battle with Bell's palsy

76ers apologize for pulling singer from national anthem

Cubs fans line up outside bar at 5:30 am before Game 3

Sheldon Adelson threatens to walk away from Raiders stadium deal

NCAA set to distribute some revenue based on academic performance

Tom Brady nixes a future in coaching, blames lack of patience

30 athletes (and friends) who've done Halloween costumes right

CFB Crash Course Week 9: The underachievers already out of playoff contention

College Football Playoff set-up could keep best teams out of title contention

Box Score 10/28: London, Wrigley and the Cell

Four NBA teams that could surprise this season

NHL in three players: Carey Price is the MVP of sports

Rex Ryan: Pats’ violation of unwritten rule led to skirmish

LeBron doesn’t want Thompson bringing Khloe around Cavs?

NFL ratings decline is also hurting the restaurant business

WATCH: Breaking down the current state of the 76ers

Five things we have learned thus far in the World Series

Can Hell in a Cell still bring the heat?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

CFB Crash Course Week 9: The underachievers already out of playoff contention

College Football Playoff set-up could keep best teams out of title contention

WATCH: Breaking down the current state of the 76ers

Five things we have learned thus far in the World Series

Can Hell in a Cell still bring the heat?

We’re doing the Bountygate thing again

Significant firsts for women's wrestling in WWE at 'Hell in a Cell'

One Gotta Go: Pac-12 players and coaches vs. the worst pickup ballers

A look back at 10 of the best-looking World Series

25 questions heading into the 2016-17 NBA season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker