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November 28, 2012

Cowboys are running to a record... and not a good one

The Cowboys had 11 rushing attempts against the Redskins on Thanksgiving. It tied for the second-fewest in team history, only one away from the team record for fewest rushing attempts in a game, and included three rushes by quarterback Tony Romo.

It continued a recent trend that has them on pace to set team records for fewest rushing attempts and fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season. Dallas is averaging 22.2 attempts per game and 78.7 rushing yards per game, putting them on pace for 355 carries for 1,260 yards this season.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson currently leads the NFL with 1,236 rushing yards, and eight other running backs have more rushing yards than the Cowboys' 866.

"You’ve heard me say this a number of times: You want to be able to attack defenses a lot of different ways," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Line one of that is you want to be able to run it and you want to be able to throw it. That balance is important. When you break the huddle, you want to be able to have a threat of, 'Hey, you’ve got to defend the run, and hey, you’ve got to defend the pass. Within that, you want to be able to run it different ways – inside and outside, two different guys and similarly throw the ball different ways. We haven’t been able to do that on a consistent enough basis. I think there is an impact when you’re not doing one thing. It puts maybe a little more pressure on the other thing. So we’re always striving to do that. We’re working hard to get better at it. We’ll keep doing that over the course of the season."

The 1960 Cowboys team, an expansion squad, has the fewest attempts and rushing yards in team history with 313 for 1,049. But they played only 12 games. The 1989 is second-worst with 355 rushes for 1,409 rushing yards, the 16-game team records for rushing futility.

The Cowboys have fallen behind early in games, forcing them to go to the air more than they would like of late, but they also haven't run it well when they have tried.

DeMarco Murray, who has missed the past six games with a foot injury, has 330 yards on 75 carries. Felix Jones has 335 yards on 94 attempts.

The Cowboys have gained only 368 rushing yards on 123 carries since Murray has been out of the starting lineup. That is an average of 20.5 rushes per game, 61.3 rushing yards per game and a rushing average of 2.99 per carry.

"You like to have enough balance so you’re not putting so much pressure on everybody," Garrett said.

The good news is: Murray was at practice Wednesday, and there is hope he can return to the lineup. The bad news is: He might not be the cure all for the run game.

"You know, it’s a team thing," Garrett said. "DeMarco has been a really good runner for us over the past couple of years. When he’s been in the lineup, we’ve run the ball. We’ve run it well, and we’ve run it better than we have when he’s been out of the lineup. But again, the next guy’s got to go in there, and you’ve got to keep rolling along. Hopefully when he gets back, he’ll help us. There’s no question about it. Both in the run game and the pass game."

-- Charean Williams

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