Published September 29, 2014
Arlington, TX – Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Dallas head coach Jason Garrett was determined to run the ball more in 2014.
That renewed focus on the rushing attack is starting to churn out results.
DeMarco Murray ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys routed the New Orleans Saints 38-17 on Sunday night.
Aided by an offensive line that has added three first-round selections -- Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin -- in the last four years, Murray leads the NFL with 534 yards on the ground. He has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of his first four games, joining Emmitt Smith as the only Dallas running backs to accomplish the feat.
"I've always had confidence in myself and my ability and the guys I run behind," Murray said.
He averaged a healthy 6.2 yards on 24 carries for the Cowboys (3-1), who raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back in their third straight win.
Dallas moved to 14-1 when Murray runs the ball at least 20 times.
Tony Romo was 22-of-29 for 262 yards and three touchdowns, Terrance Williams had six receptions for 77 yards and two scores and Dez Bryant added three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown in the triumph.
Drew Brees completed 32-of-44 passes for 340 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and Jimmy Graham hauled in eight throws for 86 yards and a score for New Orleans (1-3), which fell to 0-3 on the road this season.
"There's not going to be too much good to see in this film," New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said.
The Cowboys sweated out a Saints rally in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
New Orleans trailed 31-3 before Brees hit Josh Hill for a 12-yard score to get the visitors within three touchdowns.
Following a quick Dallas three-and-out, the Saints needed just five plays to find the end zone again. Graham sat down in an open space and hauled in a Brees throw prior to barreling in for a 13-yard touchdown to get New Orleans within 31-17 with 9:49 left.
Dallas again was unable to pick up a first down, but the Cowboys defense made a big stand to get the ball back.
New Orleans didn't move the chains once on its ensuing possession and elected to try a fake punt on 4th-and-9, but Thomas Morstead was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Jack Crawford.
Bryant's 18-yard TD catch with 3:34 to play sealed the outcome.
Earlier, Dallas took its opening possession 80 yards in 12 plays, taking 7:10 off the clock. Williams was able to hang on to a 6-yard touchdown catch despite taking a big shot from Saints safety Jairus Byrd in the back of the end zone to cap the drive.
After Shayne Graham missed a 41-yard field goal wide right at the 9:07 mark of the second, Dan Bailey was able to split the uprights from 51 yards out on Dallas' ensuing touch.
Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter tipped a Brees pass into the air that was intercepted by Justin Durant on the third play of New Orleans' next series.
Dallas made the Saints pay for the miscue just two plays later when Jason Witten set the edge on the right side of the line to spring Murray free for a 15-yard score along the sideline.
The Saints then went three-and-out and Romo fired a 23-yard TD pass to Williams on a back-shoulder throw in the left side of the end zone to stake the Cowboys to their 24-0 cushion with 19 ticks to go until the break.
New Orleans posted its first points on its opening possession of the third quarter when Graham nailed a 30-yard field goal at the 11:10 mark.
Dallas, though, answered right back.
Murray dashed through the left side of the line and scampered 28 yards for a score to increase the Cowboys' advantage to 31-3.
Murray has carried the ball at least 20 times in each of Dallas' three victories this season ... Dallas was 8-of-14 on third down, while New Orleans finished 4-of-10 ... The Cowboys held the ball for 34:45.