Murray carries load, gets record 100-yard streak to start season as Cowboys top Giants 31-21



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ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray's workload is a frequently asked question during the week for the Dallas Cowboys. There is no doubt about the answer when the game is on the line.

The NFL's leading rusher is going to get the ball.

Murray had already become the first running back in league history to start the season with seven straight 100-yard games when the Cowboys went to him seven times on a clock-killing drive that helped wrap up their sixth straight victory, 31-21 over the New York Giants on Sunday.

"He's extremely strong," owner Jerry Jones said. "I would say you have to put the speed that he has for his size, but the strength would be right behind. Because he is strong, because he is violent the way he runs the ball, I think he can handle 25 carries a game and not be too much of a risk to his health."

The fourth-year back from Oklahoma reached 100 yards on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to break Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 56-year-old record of six straight games with at least 100 to start the 1958 season with Cleveland.

Murray, on pace for just the sixth 400-carry season, finished with 128 yards and a late touchdown on a 1-yard plunge — a play after a catch by Dez Bryant was ruled a touchdown and overturned on replay.

"Nowhere am I trying to say that I'm at (Brown's) level by any means," said Murray, who played through an ankle injury sustained in the first half and now has 913 yards through seven games. "Just a great player and a great person, but I'm not even in that category at all."

Tony Romo matched his season high with three touchdown passes, including the first two-touchdown game of second-year tight end Gavin Escobar's career. But if Romo truly is becoming the second option in the Dallas offense, he is perfectly happy handing the leading role to Murray.

"I love that kid," said Romo, who was 17 of 23 for 279 yards with an interception. "He really exemplifies everything you want in a player. He's hard-working. He's humble. He's a team-first guy. He's talented. He's explosive."

Things to consider after the Cowboys (6-1) kept rolling a week after beating Super Bowl champion Seattle on the road. It is their best start since winning six of their first seven on the way to a 13-3 finish in 2007, when they were the top seed in the NFC before losing to New York in their first playoff game.

UP AND DOWN GIANTS: Eli Manning had three touchdown passes for the Giants (3-4), who have lost road games to the NFC East's top two teams in consecutive weeks. New York has two-game skids on either side of a three-game winning streak.

"We've lost a couple important games in a row, but we have a lot of games to play," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We're going to have to do something about it. Our consistency has to be there."

Manning was 21 of 33 for 248 yards.

TD THAT WASN'T: Bryant had 136 of his season-high 151 yards receiving in the second half, including a 24-yarder to the 1 on a play initially ruled a touchdown. He made a leaping catch inside the 10, and dove toward the goal line as he stretched out the ball in his left hand. The initial call that the ball broke the plane of the end zone was overturned.

"That's one of those that when we go back and watch the tape, we'll watch that one again and again and again," Garrett said. "Just to see what he's all about on that play to go get that football and put every ounce of energy into getting in that end zone. It was big-time."

LIFE AFTER CRUZ: Odell Beckham Jr. had two touchdowns starting in Victor Cruz's place in the Giants' first game since their star receiver was taken off the field in tears when he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in last week's 27-0 loss at Philadelphia.

"It's definitely hard not having him out there," said Beckham, who had four catches for 34 yards.

MARCH TO VICTORY: Murray had two first-down runs on a 4-minute drive to Dan Bailey's 49-yard field for a 31-21 lead late in the fourth quarter. Bryant also had a first-down catch. The Giants got the ball back by holding Murray to 1 yard on his last three carries.

"We pride ourselves in trying to finish the game out and not putting our defense back out there," Murray said.

LATE FUMBLES: New York's last hope ended on the second of two fourth-quarter fumbles by tight end Larry Donnell with less than a minute remaining. The first, at the end of an 8-yard catch, led to Murray's touchdown for a 28-14 Dallas lead.

"I didn't protect the ball the way I should," said Donnell, who led the Giants with seven catches for 90 yards. "I cost the team."


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