After the Cowboys and Chicago Bears traded a pair of punts apiece to start the game, the Cowboys got down to business — and Murray was their fuel.
Check out the results of the 12-play, 51-yard drive where the Cowboys and Murray established their dominance:
Murray 6-yard run. Murray 11-yard reception. Murray 8-yard run. Murray 4-yard run. Murray 1-yard reception. Murray 8-yard run. Murray run for no gain. Murray 4-yard run on 4th and 1. Murray 3-yard run. Tony Romo incomplete pass to Dez Bryant. Romo 5-yard pass to Cole Beasley. Murray 1-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal.
Eleven of the 12 plays on the drive were run in Bears territory. Murray touched the ball 10 times on the drive. Ten.
"That man is a beast," Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said. "He could carry it 100 times in a game."
For the game — a 41-28 uglier-than-it-needed-to-be Cowboys victory — Murray ran the ball 32 times, a career high, for 177 yards (and that included a ridiculous 14-yard loss) and caught nine passes, which also was a personal best.
His 41 touches were six more than he ever had in a game in college, too. Had Murray ever toted the rock that many times in a high school game maybe?
"I don't know," Murray told Shutdown Corner after the media throng left his locker. "I don't count."
It appears he doesn't. Asked about his beast-of-burden workload — both Thursday and this season, with an amazing total of 332 touches in 13 games — Murray shrugged the effort off.
"Feels good, feels good," he said. "We had a couple games where we weren't on the same page offensively. But we watched tape, got it corrected.
"But I feel great. I feel awesome. The offensive line, they played well."
And his disdain for numbers is not just for touches. Yards don't mean much to him either. Technically, Murray is within range of a 2,000-yard rushing season (if he averages 191 yards per game in the final three contests), but the subject, frankly, seems to bore him.
"I am just coming out here and running plays, whether it's running or passing," Murray said. "It's not about yards. Whatever happens at the end of the year happens. We're just trying to come up with some wins."
Still, it's rare in this pass-first league to see a player have his number called so many plays in a row. Murray is averaging 24 rush attempts per game, and only three other NFL players are averaging more than 19.2 per game. Nine straight plays, including two fourth-down conversions, on that drive shows just how valuable Murray — getting set to cash in as a free agent — can be.
"I was getting in the groove out there. A lot of singles and doubles," Murray said. "One hit, one hit, one hit ... then boom, you get a big hit."
And amazingly, Murray seems to get stronger as the game goes on. In the first half, he rushed 16 times for 65 yards with a score, and caught eight passes for 40 yards. In the second half, Murray ran it 16 more times for 114 yards and added a 9-yard catch.
"I pride myself on starting fast and finishing strong," Murray said. "I don't want to [say it], but I want to be strong every time I touch the ball."
Murray might be the team's offensive MVP and in consideration for the defensive MVP, too. The Cowboys possessed the ball nearly 19 of the first 30 minutes, and then scored on five straight possessions in the second half. By handling the load offensively, wearing down defenses and keeping his own D fresh, Murray makes everyone happy — except opponents.
"We consider him kind of part of the defense, the way he possesses the ball," Cowboys safety Barry Church said. "That keeps us fresh, keeps our plays down. Just having him out there pounding the ball, it does wonders for our defense.
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