Sep 28, 2014 11:52 PM
Romo, Murray lead Cowboys past Saints 38-17
The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Tony Romo wasn't trying to look like DeMarco Murray.
The 34-year-old Dallas quarterback instead showed everyone that his surgically repaired back is coming along just fine.
Romo threw three touchdown passes and Murray ran for a pair of scores in another 100-yard game one of them after the longest scramble of Romo's career in the Cowboys' 38-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night.
The Cowboys went up 31-3 when Romo broke free on third down and slid for the first down a play before Murray ran loose in the secondary, juked Jairus Byrd at the 10 and was pushed across the goal line by Corey White.
"It makes me feel old and the fact that I haven't gotten more than 21 yards is pretty pathetic," said Romo, whose previous long run was 17 yards despite a career known for scrambles that keep plays alive. "But other than that, it feels pretty great."
The Cowboys kept Drew Brees and the Saints scoreless in the first half after giving up an NFL-record 40 first downs in a 49-17 blowout loss in New Orleans last year.
Brees had touchdown passes to Josh Hill and Jimmy Graham early in the fourth quarter to get the Saints to 31-17 before the Cowboys regained control.
The former Texas high school star threw for 340 yards, but had just 84 yards with an interception while Dallas was building a 24-0 halftime lead after he had 838 yards with seven touchdowns and no picks in his previous two games against Dallas, both wins.
"I think we're a different team than we were last year," Romo said. "What you find is you forget it's the Saints and Drew Brees and just go play."
Dallas reached 3-1 for the first time under coach Jason Garrett after also starting 2-1 the three previous seasons. The Cowboys are tied with Philadelphia for the NFC East lead.
The Saints (1-3) couldn't sustain the momentum from their win over Minnesota and lost to the Cowboys in Texas for the first time since 1991.
"There's not going to be too much good to see in this film," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. "We're 1-3 right now, and that's about how we're playing."
The Cowboys had 445 yards against former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who directed the scheme that led to one of the franchise's worst offensive performances in years last season, about 10 months after they fired him.
Romo was 22 of 29 for 262 yards without an interception. He finished an 80-yard drive to open the game with a 6-yard pass to a leaping Terrance Williams in the end zone and found him again for 23 yards to put Dallas up 24-0 with 19 seconds left in the first half.
Williams led Dallas with 77 yards receiving, and Bryant had an 18-yard scoring catch late in the fourth quarter to secure the second win for Dallas in the past 10 games against New Orleans.
Murray's first touchdown, a 15-yard run virtually untouched around right end, was set up when Bruce Carter tipped Brees' pass and Justin Durant intercepted it at the New Orleans 39.
The NFL's leading rusher joined Emmitt Smith as the only Dallas running backs with 100 yards in the first four games of a season, and he didn't fumble in the first quarter for the first time this season. He had 149 yards to push his season total to 534.
"DeMarco is inspirational," owner Jerry Jones said. "Glad to see him have a game that he didn't turn the ball over. About the time New Orleans was thinking about getting some life, he'd go out and make those yards."
Brees had 256 yards passing after halftime, and the Saints ended up with 438 total yards. But New Orleans had three turnovers to none for Dallas.
"We had our chances in the second half," Brees said. "But at the end of the day when you look at this game, the entire game, we got beat. We got beat in every facet of it."
After pulling to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Saints had a chance to get closer, but a drive stalled and punter Thomas Morstead was tackled for a 2-yard loss while trying to throw a pass on a fake punt. That set up Bryant's clinching touchdown.
"Hindsight's probably 20-20," Payton said. "It was on the hash mark that we wanted, and they covered it pretty well."
NOTES: Cowboys K Dan Bailey's 51-yard field goal in the second quarter was 29th in a row. He broke Chris Boniol's franchise record of 27 last week at St. Louis. ... Saints RB Khiry Robinson had 87 yards rushing, 62 of them on a run that set up the touchdown to Hill. ... Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne left in the first quarter with a left knee injury. Jones said after the game the initial exam "was not encouraging."
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