THE TOP STORYLINES:
Dallas Rebounds With Record Rushing Effort From Rookie DeMarco Murray; St. Louis Sinks To 0-6
The Dallas Cowboys bounced back from a frustrating last-minute Week 6 loss to the New England Patriots by routing the floundering St. Louis Rams 34-7 behind a franchise-record 235 rushing yards on 25 carries from rookie DeMarco Murray. His single-game performance, which included a 91-yard touchdown run (the second-longest scamper in team history), was tops in franchise history and the ninth-best ever in the NFL. Murray, as you probably know, was pressed into service, because regular starter Felix Jones (high ankle sprain) was out of action. The Dallas rushing attack carried the offense, so Tony Romo (166-2-0) didn’t have to throw much. Dez Bryant (5-90-1) and Jason Witten (5-35-1) were the Cowboys’ top receivers.
As expected, sagging St. Louis (0-6) looked lost without quarterback Sam Bradford (high ankle sprain) who was inactive for the game, and the defense continued to struggle mightily. A.J. Feely started in relief (his first start since 2007), going 20-of-33 for 196 yards with one pick and no touchdown tosses. Newly acquired Brandon Lloyd made his Rams debut, compiling 6-74-0. Steven Jackson accumulated 18-70-1, scoring the Rams’ only touchdown of the contest.
Atlanta Picks Up a Much-Needed Win; Stafford Injured During Detroit’s Second Straight Home Loss
With Matt Ryan (218-1-2 and 3-2-1 rushing) and Michael Turner (27-122-0) carrying the offensive load, the Atlanta Falcons (4-3) outlasted the Detroit Lions 23-16 in a very physical contest to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Roddy White rebounded from a dismal outing last week with a solid 5-52-1, while Tony Gonzalez chipped in 5-62-0. In addition, Matt Bryant connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including a 47-yarder.
Matthew Stafford (183-1-0) hit Calvin Johnson (5-115-1) in the third quarter on a 57-yard touchdown pass, which was the Lions’ (5-2) only house call of the game. Filling in for the injured Jahvid Best (concussion), Maurice Morris (9-50-0 and 2-13-0 receiving) and Keiland Williams (9-44-0) split the backfield touches almost evenly. Jason Hansen was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts.
Stafford injured his right knee and ankle in the closing seconds of the game. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI sometime Monday.
Green Bay Holds Off Scrappy Minnesota To Go 7-0; Christian Ponder Solid In Regular-Season Debut
Aaron Rodgers compiled 335-3-0 on 24-of-30 passing and Greg Jennings amassed 7-147-1 (he caught a 79-yard touchdown pass) to help lift the Green Bay Packers (7-0) to a 33-27 triumph over a surprisingly feisty Minnesota Vikings (1-6) team. James Jones (4-63-0) and Jordy Nelson also contributed some timely catches, and James Starks (13-75-0 and 3-24-0 receiving) reestablished himself as the top tailback. Mason Crosby nailed all four of his field goal attempts – including a franchise-record 58-yarder.
Replacing the benched Donovan McNabb, Ponder looked fearless and played some gutsy football in his first pro start, compiling 219-2-2 on 13-of-32 passing. Ponder also rolled up 4-31-0 on the ground. Michael Jenkins (3-111-1) and Visanthe Shiancoe (4-45-1) were Ponder’s preferred targets. Adrian Peterson helped out his young quarterback, accumulating 24-175-1.
Chargers Blow 11-Point Lead; Fall to Jets
Thanks to veteran receiver Plaxico Burress hauling in a career-high (tie) three touchdown passes and some timely defensive plays from ‘Gang Green’, the New York Jets (4-3) rallied in the second half to defeat the San Diego Chargers (4-2) by a final of 27-21. The much-maligned Shonn Greene continued his solid running, piling up 20-112-0. Mark Sanchez amassed a solid 173-3-1 while Dustin Keller contributed 4-53-0. Kyle Wilson picked off Philip Rivers with less than six minutes left in the game to help sew up the victory. The interception was Rivers’ second of the day. He passed for just 179-1-2.
Making his return after sitting out five weeks with a foot injury, Antonio Gates compiled 5-54-1. Struggling with a thumb injury against an unexpectedly solid New York run defense, Ryan Mathews posted 13-39-0 and 4-26-0 receiving. Mike Tolbert picked up the slack, rolling up 11-58-1. San Diego’s other touchdown was courtesy of a 37-yard Donald Butler fumble return in the first quarter.