Tony Romo has been the focal point of Dallas’ offense for quite some time, but with DeMarco Murray and a cohesive offensive line guiding the Cowboys’ NFL-best rushing attack, Romo is having an easier time of it under center this season.
Well, maybe "easy" isn’t the best word.
"I don’t think that’s the term I would use, but I do think any time you have a running game, it benefits everybody," Romo said.
Murray looks to become the first running back to begin a season with seven 100-yard rushing games as the Cowboys seek a sixth straight victory when they host the New York Giants on Sunday.
Romo threw three interceptions in a season-opening loss to San Francisco, but he’s been extremely efficient since while completing 70.1 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and just two picks during the Cowboys’ winning streak.
Romo’s 191 pass attempts are his fewest through Dallas’ first six games since he became the full-time starter in 2007, and that largely has to do with the Cowboys’ effectiveness running the ball.
Murray’s 785 yards are 243 more than Le’Veon Bell’s second-best total, and his six rushing touchdowns also lead the league. Dallas (5-1) leads the NFL with 33.3 rushes per game while gaining a league-best average of 160.3 yards on the ground.
Murray joined Jim Brown as the only backs with at least 100 yards in the first six games of a season after running for 115 and a touchdown in last week’s 30-23 road win over defending Super Bowl champion Seattle.
His backup Joseph Randle had a season-high 52 yards. Coach Jason Garrett said Randle will play this week and accept a large fine after being arrested Monday for shoplifting at a mall in suburban Dallas.
"We’ve had good running games in the past before – probably not as many in a row – but my job is to obviously get us into good plays and get the ball to DeMarco and run the ball to the right looks," Romo said. "On third down, the running game doesn’t help you as much – you’ve got to go out and execute it."
Much of that execution has been due to an offensive line that features Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and rookie Zack Martin – all first-round picks within the last four years.
Smith signed an eight-year, $110 million contract extension in the offseason.
”They are old-school offensive linemen,” Garrett said. ”They don’t say a whole lot. They go out and do their job.”
The Giants’ offensive line also wasn’t talking much after last week’s 27-0 loss to Philadelphia, but for an entirely different reason. It allowed eight sacks – New York’s most since also giving up eight to the Cowboys in 2008 – and Eli Manning was hit seven more times in the blowout.
"We’re worried about Dallas right now,” center J.D. Walton said. "We can’t control last week. It’s over with so we’re moving on to Dallas.”
The Giants (3-3) averaged 35 points while winning their previous three games.
”I always say football is a humbling game,” tackle Justin Pugh said. ”You have to be able to bounce back.”
The Giants’ offense suffered another blow against the Eagles when receiver Victor Cruz tore his right patellar tendon while attempting to catch a pass in a non-contact play. Cruz had surgery Monday and will miss the rest of the season.
”You just hate it happened to Victor because he loves playing this game,” Manning said. ”He has a great attitude, and so to see him get injured and be out for the season, I feel for him.”
Rookie Odell Beckham Jr. will start in Cruz’s place opposite Rueben Randle. Beckham has caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown this season.
"It’s just tough because the guy that it happened to is a guy that’s looked after me since Day 1," Beckham said. "Now us as receivers have to step up, really make him proud and try to fill his role."
Fellow rookie Andre Williams ran for 59 yards against the Eagles in his first career start in place of Rashad Jennings, who also will miss this contest with a knee injury.
Despite multiple offensive issues, Manning is hoping the Giants can move on.
"We only have 16 regular-season games. You can’t let one game affect the next game," Manning said. "You put it away and you’ve got to do it all over again for the next one."
The Cowboys won both meetings last season, including when Dan Bailey kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired for a 24-21 victory Nov. 24. Murray rushed for 86 yards in each contest.