DeMarco Murray's record-setting performance draws praise from Cowboys greats


Dallas Cowboys rookie DeMarco Murray ran himself into the record books on Sunday and into an appointment today with Tony Dorsett.

His 253-yard performance against the St. Louis Rams drew a series of tweets -- and a phone call -- from Emmitt Smith, plus so many more calls and texts that more than 24 hours later, Murray hadn't even checked them all.

"It's crazy," the Bishop Gorman High School product said Monday afternoon, stepping out of a running backs meeting and into a series of media obligations.

Murray had the kind of breakout game every player dreams of and few ever get to savor.

In his sixth NFL game, and the first he was expected to have a big role, the third-round pick from Oklahoma ran 91 yards for a touchdown on his first carry.

It was his first career touchdown and the second-longest in franchise history. He cracked 200 yards and passed Dorsett's best day on his 22nd carry, then a few handoffs later outran the best day by Smith, the leading rusher in NFL history, and any other Dallas player.

His total was ninth-best in NFL history, behind a list of greats such as Walter Payton and O.J. Simpson, and current stars such as Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. He also replaced Jim Brown for the most yards ever gained against the Rams, erasing a mark that had stood since 1957.

When he got home, Murray didn't even watch it, preferring to stick with the replay in his head. After watching the game film Monday, he emerged with this review: "There were some good runs, but there are definitely a lot of things I need to clean up."

The asterisk to Murray's performance is that it came against the Rams, who already were ranked last in the NFL at stopping the run. Many of the holes he ran through were so big that Dorsett or Smith might have racked up more than 100 yards even at their current age and physical condition.

So the challenge for Murray is having another strong performance against a better defense. And then there's the real hallmark of the careers of Dorsett and Smith -- doing it again and again, month after month, season after season.

Smith alluded to as much in this tweet Monday: "In order to be the best, you must be consistent for a long time. Hopefully this is the start of things to come."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hit on the same theme in his day-after review.

"It's just a sign of hopefully things to come," Garrett said. "That's not to suggest that he's going to have these kinds of days. But the first opportunity he got to get the ball like he got it in college, he took advantage of it. Now he's just got to keep taking the next step week to week."

■ LIONS ­-- Quarterback Matthew Stafford is day to day after hurting his right ankle late in Detroit's loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Coach Jim Schwartz said Stafford wore a protective boot after the game. Schwartz wouldn't go into any details about X-rays or an MRI, but he did hint that any tests that might have been done weren't overly worrisome.

"If they were, he would be more than day to day," Schwartz said. "If he had a broken bone, he would be more than day to day."

Stafford's fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 90 seconds remaining Sunday, and he came hobbling off. He had his ankle taped and said later he would have tried to go back in, but Detroit couldn't get the ball back.

In other Lions news, Ndamukong Suh fired back at the Falcons, saying quarterback Matt Ryan's brief injury was "karma" and hinting that Atlanta has been guilty of dirty play.

Falcons players told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Suh and fellow defensive lineman Cliff Avril taunted the quarterback while he was down in the third quarter. Ryan tweaked a knee when offensive lineman Will Svitek stepped on his left ankle, but he came back in the game a short while later.

Suh said: "To me it's karma for all the bad stuff they've done in the past. Their offensive lineman hurt their own quarterback."

■ JETS -- Wide receiver Plaxico Burress spoke Monday night at a banquet for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, telling the audience, "Let what happened to me serve a higher purpose."

Burress spent nearly two years in prison on a weapon possession charge after he accidentally shot himself in the leg in 2008.

The organization initially pressed for him to go to prison, but was thrilled to welcome Burress when he contacted the center about working together.

"If I can save one life, keep one kid from having a firearm, then I think the higher purpose was served," Burress said at the fundraiser.

Burress, who signed with the Jets over the summer, tied a career high with three touchdown catches in a 27-21 win over San Diego on Sunday.

■ RAMS -- Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Sam Bradford remains in a walking boot and that he quarterback's availability is uncertain for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

Bradford has been shut down since Friday in hopes that time will help heal his high left ankle sprain.

■ REDSKINS -- Running back Tim Hightower is out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, and receiver Santana Moss will miss five to seven weeks with a broken bone in his left hand.

Hightower's knee buckled during a third-quarter run in Sunday's loss to Carolina, and Moss was hurt in the first half. He had surgery Monday.

■ BRONCOS -- Leading rusher Willis McGahee is expected to have surgery later this week for a broken finger on his right hand and will not play against Detroit on Sunday.

McGahee didn't return after hurting the finger in the third quarter of Denver's overtime win over the Dolphins. He finished with 76 yards on 18 attempts.

■ SEAHAWKS -- Second-year cornerback Walter Thurmond was placed on injured reserve with a broken fibula and serious ankle injury.

Thurmond was hurt in the second quarter of Seattle's loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

■ BENGALS -- Adam "Pacman" Jones was cleared to begin practicing as Cincinnati returned from its bye week.

Jones missed the first six games as he recovers from two surgical procedures on his neck in the past year. The cornerback can practice with the team for three weeks before it has to decide whether to put him on the active roster.

■ PACKERS -- Rookie running back Alex Green is out for the season after injuring his knee during Sunday's victory at Minnesota. Green appeared to sustain the injury on a first-quarter kickoff.

 

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