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September 23, 2013

5 things to know after Cowboys roll past Rams 31-7

ARLINGTON, Texas — Before DeMarco Murray ran through St. Louis just like he did when he set a franchise record two years ago, the Dallas defense stopped the Rams twice.

The Cowboys had to get a pair of three-and-outs because Dwayne Harris muffed the game's first punt, but that just gave Dallas a chance to get the first of six sacks on Sam Bradford.

Murray ran for 175 yards and a touchdown, Tony Romo threw for three scores and the Cowboys held the Rams to 18 yards in the first half of a 31-7 victory Sunday.

"I thought our defense just came and responded the right way," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought we played with the right kind of spirit and demeanor and we showed some relentless nature to our team."

Bradford certainly felt it. He hadn't been sacked in four games going back to last season — the longest sack-free streak for the Rams in 40 years. He went down four times in the first half and was hit another eight times in the game.

"They were running a lot of games with their down linemen," said Bradford, who was 29 of 48 for 240 yards while his running game generated just 35 yards. "A couple of blitzes got us, too. Those guys played well."

Murray went 14 yards on his first carry, had a 36-yarder to start the next scoring drive and finished the first half with 96 yards. He went 41 yards on the second play of the third quarter to get his first 100-yard game in more than a year and set up a touchdown for a 24-0 lead.

The third-year back had a lot of room to run for a guy who torched the Rams for a Cowboys record of 253 yards in a 34-7 Dallas win his rookie season in 2011.

"When you get a runner like that going, you can feed on him," Garrett said. "He gets a little contagious for everybody. Everybody starts feeling it."

Here are five other things to know after the Cowboys improved to 2-0 at home for the first time since moving into their $1.2 billion stadium in 2009.

1. ROMO'S STROLL IN THE PARK: Romo had his easiest day since Murray's career game against the Rams in 2011. His 24 attempts matched the fewest in a full game since then, and he had 210 yards and a 137.2 rating. He found Dez Bryant from 2 yards for the game's first score and had 24-yard touchdowns to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and Harris in the second half.

"You'll have one or two games like this and you'll have one slanted the other way and you have to throw it more times than you want to," Romo said. "It's nice today to just give them the ball and just let those guys go."

2. PLAYING FROM BEHIND: The Rams fell behind by three touchdowns for the second straight week. A week ago they ran out of time in a 31-24 loss to Atlanta. Although they never really had a chance against the Cowboys, there was a point after their only score that they had the ball near midfield down 24-7 early in the fourth. But Bradford threw behind Chris Givens on fourth down, and Dallas scored three plays later.

3. WARE'S RECORD DAY: DeMarcus Ware had two of Dallas' sacks to break Harvey Martin's 30-year-old franchise record of 114. Former coach Bill Parcells and owner Jerry Jones used to have fun throwing around bets how many sacks 2005 first-round pick Ware would get.

"I think of it every time I think of his number of sacks," Jones said. "I can't say that it is unexpected because of how hard he works, and his talent level, and his competitiveness."

4. QUICK TURNAROUND: The Rams don't have long to lament all the things that went wrong against the Cowboys. St. Louis hosts San Francisco on Thursday night, with the defending NFC champions also sitting at 1-2 after consecutive losses.

The Rams had only 232 total yards and were 0 for 12 on third down until a 9-yard run on the game's last play.

"We didn't do really, do anything well today," coach Jeff Fisher said. "I did not see this coming. This is a defining moment for us right now. We've got to get past this and get ready for the 49ers."

5. SHARING THE WEALTH: Romo spread things around to his receivers. Besides finding three different targets for his touchdowns, he had seven receivers among his 17 completions. Jason Witten led with five catches for 67 yards. Dez Bryant caught four for 38, and Murray had three for 28 — giving him 203 yards rushing and receiving.

"I thought he threw the ball exactly where he needed to throw it, and I just thought he was really comfortable," Garrett said of Romo.

 

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