The Dallas Cowboys made an excellent personnel move signing running back Sammy Morris on Tuesday. After DeMarco Murray was lost for the season with a broken ankle, Dallas was left with Felix Jones as the team’s only healthy running back. During the Cowboys’ 31-15 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday, Jones and Morris showed they are more than capable of handling Dallas’ rushing workload.
The Cowboys were supposed to run all over the Buccaneers. Even without Murray, Dallas had plenty of firepower to combat Tampa Bay’s porous rush defense, which ranks near the bottom of the barrel among NFL teams.
Jones did his part as the workhorse, rushing for 100 yards for a second straight game. The once forgotten Cowboys running back carried the ball 22 times for 108 yards to be exact, doing exactly what Dallas needed him to in this must-win contest.
That was the easy part, or easier part. Dallas was considered to be in big trouble after Murray had season-ending ankle surgery on Monday. The signing of Morris was a last-ditch effort to keep the offense from being completely crippled by leaning on the pass entirely. Morris didn’t fill in as a scrub; he made the Cowboys’ offense balanced in the absence of Murray.
Dallas allowed the 36-year-old Morris to carry the ball 12 times and he rewarded his new team with 53 yards and four punishing runs on the Cowboys’ final drive to end the game. Morris capped his reemergence party with an 8-yard dash on fourth-and-six to ice the game with a minute and a half to play.
The Cowboys have two more weak rushing defenses left on the schedule in the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. If Jones and Morris continue to run as well as they did Saturday night, the Cowboys will ride these two workhorse running backs into the postseason. Their courageous running helped keep Dallas’ offense balanced and helped keep the pressure off Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who had another phenomenal outing as well.
It is absolutely imperative for the Cowboys to keep that balance in the next two games, which are sure to be shootouts. Both are must-wins as the Cowboys must have a better record than the Giants at season’s end to win the division and make the playoffs. If Jones and Morris continue to run like they did Saturday night, the Cowboys’ wild ride may be just beginning.
Follow Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin