No Miles Austin, no Dez Byant, no Jason Witten. No problem.
The Dallas Cowboys tore apart the St. Louis Rams defense Saturday night without any help from their top three pass-catchers. Dwayne Harris and Kevin Ogletree looked like Pro Bowlers, Cole Beasley was again a stud from the slot and James Hanna and John Phillips held their ground at tight end.
It's further proof that Laurent Robinson was in the right place at the right time last season and that this offense is almost entirely dependent on quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo was dialed in against the Rams' first-team defense, finding Harris for two touchdowns and racking up 198 passing yards in the first quarter alone. It was great to see big final numbers again from Harris, Ogletree and Beasley, but it's another indication that it probably doesn't matter who wins the No. 3 receiver spot to start the season.
If you're on the field with Romo, you're going to be successful. Just look at Robinson, who had just four touchdown catches in four seasons before joining the Cowboys in 2011 and finding himself in that No. 3 spot. He blew up, putting up 858 yards and 11 touchdowns despite starting only four games. It was enough to earn him a $32.5 million contract in Jacksonville, where Robinson has turned back into a ghost thus far in the preseason.
I'm not saying Harris, Ogletree and Beasley don't deserve some credit for establishing separation from Andre Holmes, Danny Coale and others. They combined for 11 catches, 233 yards and two scores Saturday night, which requires some skill. But it's Romo who keeps putting talented yet inexperienced targets in position to make big plays.
It's enough to make you wonder if Austin wouldn't have become a star if not for his circumstances.
It also helps that the running game continues to be so effective, forcing defenses to stay honest despite the absence of guys like Bryant, Austin and Witten, all of whom may or may no be ready to go when the Cowboys open the season in New York 10 days from now.
Felix Jones finally showed up Saturday against St. Louis, and DeMarco Murray was solid again. Those two combined for 60 yards on just 11 carries.
The depleted offensive line has been shaky throughout camp and the preseason, and yet they're still finding holes on the ground, and Romo has been sacked only once.
The 32-year-old Romo appears set to have another big season. He's posted a 117.1 passer rating, a 65.6 completion percentage and a 9.5 yards-per-attempt average thus far in August, which, considering the aforementioned circumstances related to the offensive line and the receiving/tight end corps, is simply outstanding.
"If you're in the right place at the right time, Tony's going to find you," said Harris after the game, according to ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon. "He's a great quarterback. He's going to find the open guy. If you run your route and get open, he's going to throw it to you."
Sometimes, it's that simple.
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