Cowboys coach Jason Garrett showed never seen before toughness in Saturday's preseason victory against the Bengals by benching starting running back DeMarco Murray because of fumble in the first quarter.
Murray finished the series but remained on the sideline for the rest of the first half as he was replaced by backup Phillip Tanner.
Murray returned in the third quarter and played well but the message from Garrett was sent loud and clear: he's not going to tolerate turnovers, especially one week after the Cowboys committed six in a preseason loss to the Cardinals.
"DeMarco Murray is a really good football player," Garrett said. "He’s a really valuable part of our football team. We need to be able to run the football. We need to run it better than we’ve run it in the past. We need to run it more than we’ve run it in the past. He’s a big part of that. You can’t hand the ball to a guy if he’s going to fumble it. Those should be safe plays, control-the-game type plays. If the ball comes out, we really don’t have a chance to be a good football team. Obviously last week in Arizona, we turned it over six times. We made a huge emphasis on taking care of the ball and taking the ball away all through the offseason, all through training camp and then we have a game like that. We make a further emphasis as a staff, as a football team all week long, and then on the fifth or sixth play of the ballgame the ball comes out in the shadow of our own goal post. Can’t happen. I don’t care who you are; we can’t have it. DeMarco’s a man. He understands team. He understands what his role is on this football team. We just felt that was the right thing to do, and he responded exactly how we thought he would respond, came back and played really hard and really well and took care of the rock. Keep doing that going forward."
Garrett asked if he would have done the same if turnover would have occurred in a regular season game and not a preseason game.
He declined to answer, saying, "Hypothetical decisions are hard to deal with from this podium."
Asked a similar hypothetical on whether he felt quarterback Tony Romo would be benched on his first interception, Murray had no problem providing an answer.
"I highly doubt that," Murray said.