67° Good Morning
67° Good Morning

Can Giants' defense contain NFL leading rusher DeMarco Murray?

The Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray carries the ball

The Dallas Cowboys' DeMarco Murray carries the ball during the first half of a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014 in Seattle. Credit: AP / Elaine Thompson

If the Giants overlooked LeSean McCoy last week because of his unimpressive stats, it will be difficult to make the same mistake against DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys running back leads the NFL in rushing yards, has tied Jim Brown (yes, Jim Brown!) for most 100-plus rushing yard games to start a season with six, and has personified Dallas' transformation to a run-first offense. All of which presents a very clear and imminent challenge to the Giants' run defense as it comes off its worst game of the season.

"It's tough," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said Wednesday. "We have to line up and be disciplined across the board. Everybody has to be responsible for their gap."

Tom Coughlin expressed assurance that the Giants can return to the unit that was holding opponents to 99.0 yards per game in the first five games, not the one that allowed 203 to the Eagles and 149 to McCoy.

"I'm confident that we can get back on track and do a better job of leverage and contain, turning the ball back inside and all of the things you saw that we did not do," he said.

Just how good is the Cowboys' running game? Murray leads the league with 785 rushing yards on 159 carries. He's the first Cowboy to lead the league this late into a season since Emmitt Smith in Week 10 of the 1999 season. No Cowboy has led the NFL in rushing for a season since Smith in 1995, and Murray seems poised to do that.

"I think that's by design," Coughlin said of the change in the Cowboys' offensive philosophy. "Everyone that watches tape gives their offensive line a lot of credit. They have three number ones [draft picks] in the front on the offensive line and they do an outstanding job. Of course with DeMarco Murray, they have an outstanding runner."

Murray may be vastly improved, but he's always been effective when he plays against the Giants. In four games he's run for 328 yards, the second-highest total against any opponent in his career. He's never scored a touchdown against the Giants, though.

Murray missed Cowboys practice Wednesday due to an illness. Two of his key blockers also missed practice -- tackle Doug Free is out several weeks with a foot injury suffered on Sunday and tackle Tyron Smith left the workout to have an MRI on his ankle.

After what McCoy did to them, the Giants probably shouldn't know any of that.

It might be better for the Giants if they think the Cowboys are at full strength.

New York Sports