Stats – 32 carries, 179 yards (5.6 ypc), 1 TD, 9 rec on 10 targets for 49 yards for 228 total yards
The Bears defense was ranked 27th in total team DVOA rankings, but 15th against the run through Week 13. In this game it was the Cowboys’ offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage allowing Murray to gain 179 yards on the ground through easy openings.
Play 17 is an off-tackle run to the right from I-formation that is blocked beautifully by the Cowboys’ offensive line mainly through RT Free, RG Martin and FB Clutts for the 8 yard gain.
Murray reads the right tackle and fullback blocking the two edge defenders then cuts back inside.
Murray then sees the inside hole between the center and the right guard, but sees DT92 Paea sealing the A-gap against C Frederick, so he cuts back through the original hole.
Play 19 was one of my favorite runs by Murray. It’s a dive play through the middle, but Murray reads that the hole is closed and then bounces it to the outside for the big gain. Murray’s cut outside is what makes CB23 Fuller lose contain on the edge.
Murray reads the gap between the center and the right guard is sealed, so he bounces to the outside left.
After Murray makes his way to the outside he reads that CB23 Fuller is playing too far to the inside, so Murray makes another cut outside to get free for the large gain on the play.
Watch how fluidly Murray makes his cuts. He plants and then drives efficiently not taking any unneccessary steps. Most of his runs showed this great ability to change directions and drive through the hole on simple cuts.
Play 15 and 24 showed Murray’s fluid cutting ability as well as impeccable blocking by the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Look at how big the holes are for Murray to run through. The offensive line is dominating the defensive line in the trenches. This is key all night.
Play 24 is similar to play 15 in that Murray does a good job of reading the openings created by the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Play 29 was similar to Play 24 where Murray reads that the hole between the center and left guard were closed so Murray cuts to the opposite hole for the big gain on the play.
Murray reads the hole between the left tackle and the left guard is closed so he cuts back to the right.
By this point center Frederick has blasted open his hole with the help of right guard Martin. Murray sees this an accelerates through the whole.
Although, Murray, had a great game statistically, there were times I felt like Murray prematurely cut due to impatience or simply chose the wrong hole. This happened in plays 3, 12, and 28.
Murray is in offset-I formation with TE82 Witten on the right side of the line. In this play, Murray patiently follows his blockers on the stretch play to the right and sees a wide open hole between Witten and the FB44 Clutts, but chooses not to take it. I don’t understand Murray’s thought process here. WR88 Bryant (off-screen) is blocking the edge and all Murray would have to do is cut through this hole and out run the safety for a large gain on the play. Very dissapointing result.
In this play, Murray has a wide open hole between the center and the left guard, but does not use is as he sees SS21 Mundy. Instead he choses the smaller hole between the center and right guard and predictably guets tackles. I understand that Mundy was closing the gap, but Murray probably could have over-powered him or at least dragged him an extra yard or two with his speed and raw power.
In this play, Murray watches TE82 Witten engage the defender and he cuts back inside. Good move.
Murray then follows this cut with another cut back inside through Witten and RG70 Martin which was closed. The obvious hole was between the Martin, who was pulling from the opposite side, and LG77 Leary who does an excellent job of blocking his man.
The absolute worst run of the night by Murray occurred in play 27 where Murray dances behind the line of scrimmage for a large loss on the play. This play should not make you happy as a Cowboys’ fan.
Murray reads DT92 Paea gaining penetration on C72 Frederick, so Murray cuts back in the other direction. Good decision.
Murray then decides to cut back to the left after reading the right edge defender has contain. Another good decision. It is at this point where Murray should just run hard through the middle and try to salvage the play, but he doesn’t.
Instead, Murray then tries again to bounce outside losing 14 yards on the play and by not going down.
Murray simply needs to make his decision on which cut to take and stick to it. Making matters worse, Murray gained 40 yards on the previous play and then the Cowboys had to kick a field goal after such a great play to start the drive.
Actually, the most impressive run of the night belonged to Joseph Randle in the 3rd quarter. Randle used his vision and cutback ability to score a 17 yard touchdown in Play 25.
In this play Romo and Randle line up in the singleback formation and it’s a man-blocking run to the left side. Randle makes some great cuts through the holes created by the offensive lineman to score a touchdown. Watch Randle use his vision and agility through each opening.
Randle reads the LG Leary and LT Smith have their men sufficiently blocked. Same with C Frederick.
Randle cuts inside to see RG Martin blcok out LB57 Bostic on the play.
Randle then sees that RT68 Free missed his chop block on the right side, so Randle cuts back left.
Finally, WR88 Bryant blocks out CB23 Fuller and Randle uses his speed to cut around the edge for the score. Amazing play by Randle that sadly does not get enough attention due to Murray’s 32 carries on the evening.
In conclusion, the Cowboys’ offensive line deserves the majority of the credit. Murray did a great job for the majority of the night making quick cuts to find holes and then use his power to gain yards on the play. Every member of the offensive line gained positive grades by ProFootballFocus. For reference PFF gave the following scores: LT77 Smith (+2.7), LG65 Leary (+6.2), C72 Frederick (+7.3), RG70 Martin (+3.2), and RT68 Free (+3.2).