Bears’ prime concern vs. Cowboys is DeMarco Murray
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org September 28, 2012 8:28PM
Updated: October 30, 2012 6:09AM
The Bears spent Friday gushing over Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
His arm, his feet, his running ability. Heck, they would’ve mentioned his famous dimples if someone would’ve asked.
But on Monday night, they’d prefer to see the ball in Romo’s hands than running back DeMarco Murray’s.
“[Murray is] big, fast and shifty,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “I watched him play a lot in college when he was at Oklahoma, and he was really good. Same thing in the NFL. Just a big running back who gets a lot of yards by making people miss.’’
Since Murray, 24, took over as the full-time running back with a breakout 253-yard game Oct. 23, 2011, against the Rams, the formula for the Cowboys’ offensive success has been simple: When Murray has 20 carries or more, Dallas hasn’t lost (6-0).
The victory against the Buccaneers last week was the first time in 11 games in which Murray had fewer than 20 carries — he had 18 — and the Cowboys still won.
“Definitely, he’s a No. 1 running back,’’ defensive end Corey Wootton said. “Every game we go into, especially with this team and DeMarco Murray, the way their line blocks, we definitely have to stop the run and force them to pass.
“First and foremost, stop the run. Because we’ve seen the film, and when they get the run going, they’re able to really mix it up. We want to force them to pass and hopefully let our rush get after them.’’
Back in 2010, when the Bears beat the Cowboys 27-20 in Dallas, Romo threw for 374 yards. The Cowboys rushed for 36 yards, and Marion Barber gained 31 of those yards.
The game plan is to force the Cowboys to rely heavily on Romo.
“When I look back five or six years, I just laugh at the level or the way that [I] played back then,’’ Romo said of his improvement. “For me, sports in general, part of the excitement is improvement and getting better and figuring out how to do it and thinking about it and constant evaluation of how to improve and go about the process to improve.
“I think you’re always trying to prove it, if not for other people, just yourself. You’re continually trying to get better, and you’re trying to accomplish the goals that you have set out as a team.’’
Romo, 32, can talk about improvement and maturity, but he still makes bad decisions at crucial times, and that usually leads to bad results.
When Romo threw an interception last season, the Cowboys were 2-5 in those games. Through the first three games this season, he has thrown a pick per game.
“[Romo has] had a lot of success,’’ Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, ‘‘and he’s had some disappointments, like anybody, and the biggest thing is he just keeps going forward and tries to get better individually and as a leader for our football team.’’
Nice compliment, but he’s not the Bears’ biggest concern. Romo can have his. It’s Murray who has to be contained.
“Murray has just been a guy that’s played well,’’ linebacker Lance Briggs said. “He’s fast, he’s tough, he gets his head in there between the tackles. We just have to be sharp. As long as we’re sharp and everyone gets their head in the gap and plays disciplined football, we’ll be all right.’’