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Rams falter under pressure, Bradford sacked 6 times in 31-7 loss at Cowboys

Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams faltered under pressure.

And they still can't stop Bradford's college teammate DeMarco Murray.

Bradford was sacked six times, after none the previous four games going back to last season, and Murray ran for 175 yards with a touchdown on 26 carries and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Rams 31-7 on Sunday.

"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."

With a home game Thursday night against the defending NFC champions, St. Louis (1-2) has to correct things in a hurry.

The good part for the Rams is they don't have much time to worry about another lopsided loss against the Cowboys or another breakout performance by Murray against them.

The running back had a Cowboys-franchise record 253 yards rushing as a rookie two years ago in a 34-7 win over the Rams.

"It's a little frustrating. I'm not really sure why he has to do it against us," Bradford said of Murray, his teammate at Oklahoma.

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

They had a punt return for a touchdown nullified by a penalty and they trailed 24-0 before finally scoring in the third quarter on a fourth-and-goal play from the 4.

It was the second week in a row the Rams trailed by at least three touchdowns before scoring. They lost 31-24 at Atlanta after being down 21-0 in the first half.

"Pretty much, we had a flat start," said receiver Tavon Austin, whose 84-yard punt return in the second quarter was wiped out by a holding penalty.

"We've got to find ourselves right now. Our back is against the wall. We've got to come out and play harder and harder and hopefully get some wins."

Players and coaches held a closed-door meeting in the locker room immediately after the game.

"We have to stick together," defensive end Chris Long said. "Nobody is going to come in here and save the day. It is on us to change things."

Tony Romo threw for 210 yards and three scores for Dallas, and Murray had his first 100-yard game in more than a year.

It started with a 14-yard run on Dallas' first offensive play, and he had plenty of open space on a 36-yarder to start Dallas' second drive to a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Bradford finished 29 of 48 for 240 yards. But he was sacked four times by halftime when the Rams, trying for their first 2-1 start since 2006, had just 18 yards total offense. Murray had 96 by himself and the Cowboys 202 with a 17-0 lead by then.

The Rams then had a turnover on their first play of the second half when Chris Givens fumbled after a 26-yard catch.

Romo, who had 217 yards passing, threw 2 yards to Dez Bryant for the first Dallas score. He had a pair of 24-yarders in the second half to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris, who bounced back from a fumble on the game's first punt.

When the Rams finally started getting defenders around Murray at the line of scrimmage, Romo found him on the outside for a pair of catches on a drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Murray for a 17-0 lead.

Murray went around the left end before extending the ball over the goal line right on the pylon, and there was no review.

St. Louis avoided the shutout on Bradford's 4-yard pass to Austin Pettis on fourth down late in third quarter after an interception by rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Jason Hatcher.

The Rams had a chance to stay in the game on their next drive, but Bradford threw behind Givens while Givens on fourth down. Dallas scored three plays later for a 31-7 lead when Romo hit Harris in stride in the back of the end zone.

"You name at it as far as execution errors and we did it today," Bradford said. "In the first half, we just never got anything going, played behind the chains all day. First play (of the second half), turn the ball over. Just things you can't do. Just a very poor performance on our part today."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org