Cowboys running back Troy Hambrick couldn't hold on to the ball in the first half, and the starting offensive line couldn't stay together. They used the second half to work out their problems.
Hambrick had two first-half fumbles, a mouthful from coach Bill Parcells on the sidelines and the threat of new backup Adrian Murrell getting more time. All while the offensive line played a patchwork lineup, at times overcoming the loss of its multi-million dollar left side of Flozell Adams and Larry Allen.
Parcells stuck with Hambrick, and he provided a fumble-free second half and finished the game with 100 yards on 21 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
"I think if Murrell would have been around a little longer, he would have got the nod," Hambrick said. "I would have been sitting on the bench."
Hambrick carried six times for 28 yards in a 10-play, 48-yard drive to start the second half. He ended the drive with a 1-yard touchdown to give Dallas a 14-6 lead. It was a return to the Parcells way of pounding the running game like the Cowboys did during their five-game winning streak.
The Cowboys also ran when they needed to secure the game after the Redskins pulled within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Terry Glenn's 47-yard run on a reverse to the Redskins' 29-yard line sealed the 21-14 victory.
Despite Hambrick's recovery and his second 100-yard game of the season, he didn't get much of an endorsement from Parcells.
"Troy Hambrick is what I've got and I'll play him," Parcells said. "He just needs to get his stuff together."
The Cowboys had 40 rushes for a season-high 208 yards, and are now 6-0 when they rush 30 or more times. Murrell, who hadn't played in the NFL since 2000 and was signed Tuesday, provided a style change to complement Hambrick. Murrell rushed nine times for 20 yards and had two receptions for 22 yards.
"I think my style is a little different than his," Murrell said. "And I think we can work well together. This is an exciting time, and I'm for everybody making some plays in the offense."
The offensive line held together without right tackle Ryan Young, who was inactive with an injured knee, and at times Adams and Allen, who was carted off the field in the second quarter. Fill-ins Kurt Vollers (who started for Young), Torrin Tucker and Tyson Walter held up and provided a boost to a running game that was practically nonexistent against Tampa Bay last week with 60 yards.
Surprisingly, Allen returned in the second half after suffering a hyperextended left knee. Adams left the game after sustaining a blow to the head and suffering a right shoulder contusion. He also returned. But in the Cowboys' offensive line, backup players routinely practice at different positions. The versatility kept the patchwork line working.
"This is not a game for the faint-hearted and the weak-hearted," Hambrick said. "They stepped in and did all they could do. There were some holes and when the line blocks, I can run. That's been my whole case since I've been here."
Quote of the Day
"I'm not amazed at anything. We have a long way to go. There's a lot of football left. I think this is a critical time in the season for us. Fortunately we have one-fifth of what I think is going to be the most critical time of the season. 20 percent is now in our favor, so hopefully we can keep playing good enough to win, maybe better than we have, but this team is not without some problems no question about it. You try to work around them. We're starting to get nicked up here and there like everyone does. I'm just hopeful we can keep it on the plus side." -- Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells.
Second Half Told Different Story
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