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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – DeMarco Murray is giving the Dallas Cowboys the ability to run over opponents, at least when he holds onto the ball.
Murray fumbled on his third carry of the game and wound up running for 167 yards and a touchdown Sunday, helping the Cowboys beat the Tennessee Titans 26-10 in their home opener.
"I told him that was his third carry and he was going to get about 30, so hold onto the ... ball," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.
With Murray leading the way, the Cowboys avoided an 0-2 start, and they dominated holding the ball for more than 41 minutes by rushing for 220 yards. Tony Romo was sacked four times but didn't have a turnover a week after being intercepted three times by the 49ers.
"DeMarco is turning straight beast mode," Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said. "I know he is going to keep doing that. If he runs the ball like that, all the running backs, it just makes our jobs that much easier."
The Titans ran all over Kansas City winning their opener but missed too many tackles against the Cowboys. That cost the Titans (1-1) their first 2-0 start since 2008, the last time the franchise made the playoffs.
"The thing that hurts most is that we did this at home," first-year Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We're working hard to be a good team for our fans here. I'm really disappointed that we didn't do a better job with that."
Here are some things that stood out Sunday:
COWBOY UP: Dallas scored the first 16 points, and the final score could have been worse if the Cowboys didn't have to send Dan Bailey out for four field goals. He connected from 48, 44, 51 and 48 yards. Dallas finished with a 368-314 edge in total offense with Murray's fumble the only turnover. When the Titans pulled within 16-10 in the third quarter, Romo drove the Cowboys 80 yards and found Bryant for a 3-yard TD.
MCCLAIN HAVING FUN: Dallas linebacker Rolando McClain made a doozy of an interception, slipping his hand just under the ball in a play that fooled officials into calling it incomplete until Garrett challenged for a review that overturned the call. That cost McClain a touchdown. But the former top 10 draft pick who walked away from the NFL twice in Baltimore also had a sack and led the Cowboys with seven tackles Sunday.
"I told the coaches that all those years of playing tight end at Alabama paid off," McClain said. "I knew it was an interception. I just wanted to get into the end zone."
MALIGNED DALLAS D: The Cowboys, last in total defense last season, came up with very key plays in Tennessee. They intercepted two passes, turned into 10 points, and they forced the Titans to turn the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter after having first-and-goal at the 6. The Cowboys also held the Titans to just 68 yards of offense and 8 minutes, 19 seconds of possession in the first half.
MCCOURTY'S HEALTH: Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, who had two interceptions in the opener, hurt a groin muscle and missed the second half. That left second-year cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh helping cover Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant. Wreh-Wilson was flagged for defensive pass interference on Bryant on a key third down, and he was on the Cowboys' receiver when he caught a 3-yard TD pass in the third quarter.
Whisenhunt said he anticipates McCourty will be OK. McCourty said he tried to go but has got to get healthy.
WHOSE HOME?: The Titans went 3-5 at home last season, and Whisenhunt wants to reclaim the home-field advantage to help this team reach the playoffs. It didn't go well as the Titans got to hear Dallas fans chanting "Let's go Cowboys" loudly in the fourth quarter.
"It was an atmosphere like I hadn't felt here since I've been here," Locker said. "It's just unfortunate to go out and play like we did ... but we can only hope the people here stick behind us."
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