DeMarco Murray finally gives Cowboys a 100-yard season-opener rusher

DeMarco Murray hoists a trophy moments after l...

DeMarco Murray from his days at Oklahoma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

DeMarco Murray gained 130 yards on 20 carries for the Cowboys in their 24-17 win over the New York Giants on Wednesday night. Murray became the first Cowboy to rush for 100 or more yards in the team’s first game of the season since 1999 when Emmitt Smith had 109 yards on 23 carries in Dallas’ 41-35 win over Washington on September 12, 1999.

There are five teams that have waited longer than the Cowboys to have a runner gain 100-plus yards rushing in their season opener. At the top of the list are the Cleveland Browns who have gone 29 seasons since Mike Pruitt gained 136 yards in the Browns’ season opener against the Seattle Seahawks in 1982.

Following are the NFL teams that have not had a 100-yard rusher in their season-opener in this decade.

Year, Team, Last 100-yard rusher on Opening Day

1982, Cleveland: Mike Pruitt

1995, New England: Curtis Martin

1996, Detroit: Barry Sanders

1998, Jacksonville: James Stewart

1998, San Francisco: Garrison Hearst

In 2011, seven teams opened the season with a running back gaining 100 or more yards on the ground. They were: Michael Turner (Atlanta), Ray Rice (Baltimore), Fred Jackson (Buffalo), Cedric Benson (Cincinnati), Ben Tate (Houston), Darren McFadden (Oakland) and LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia).

Three teams, Denver, the New York Giants and Pittsburgh, have had the most 100-yard rushers in a season opener since 2000, each with five such games. Here’s a look at how many opening weekend games each team had a runner gain 100 or more yards from 2000-2011.

5: Denver, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh

4: Atlanta, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Washington

3: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Tennessee

2: Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Oakland, St. Louis

1: Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay

0: Cleveland, Dallas (Murray gained 131 yards in the Cowboys first game of 2012), Detroit, Jacksonville, New England, San Francisco

Of the 80 times that a runner gained 100 or more yards rushing in his team’s first game of the season since 2000, four players did it four times during the past 12 seasons (2000-2011): Green Bay’s Ahman Green, the Giants’ Tiki Barber, Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker, and San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson. All total, 16 different running backs had 100-plus yards rushing in the season opener multiple times since 2000.

Most season openers with 100+ yards rushing, Player (Team)

4: Ahman Green (Green Bay), Tiki Barber (N.Y. Giants), Willie Parker (Pittsburgh), LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego)

3: Edgerrin James (Indianapolis), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota), Shaun Alexander (Seattle)

2: Michael Turner (Atlanta), Warrick Dunn (Atlanta), Ray Rice (Baltimore), Priest Holmes (Kansas City), Thomas Jones (N.Y. Jets), Curtis Martin (N.Y. Jets), Chris Brown (Tennessee), Clinton Portis (Washington), Stephen Davis (Washington)

Note: In the 80 games prior to the start of the 2012 season where a player gained 100 or more yards rushing in his team’s first game of the season, teams won 70 of those games, a .875 winning percentage).

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