This Sunday the Dallas Cowboys answered the critical question: How will the passing game survive after the departure of wide receiver Terrell Owens?
A 34-21 victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay was a good start for the 2009 season. But the score could have been higher for the Cowboys.
Without the drama or the popcorn that we had come to expect from Owens, the Cowboys looked like a team more focused under the leadership of quarterback Tony Romo.
Even Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett looked more in control of the scripting of plays.
Romo passed for a career high 353 yards. He completed 16/27 for 59.3% avg. not the completion percentage we are use to seeing from Romo.
Romo didn't have to rely in "Old Faithful" Jason Witten who had 5 for 71 yds, but was able to find his receivers for three long TD's.
Miles Austin - 42 yds.
Roy Williams - 66 yds.
Patrick Clayton - 80 yds.
The rest of the passing game 13 catches for 165 yds.
Jason Witten 5 - 71 yds.
Roy Williams 2 - 20 yds.
Patrick Clayton 3 - 55 yds.
Tashard Choice 2 - 6 yds.
Martellis Bennett 1 - 13 yds.
The first quarter started slow as Romo was having trouble connecting with his receivers, perhaps first game jitters. Romo missed connecting with his wide open receivers numerous times.
Romo's timing seemed off as he seemed to force plays, end resulting in Romo overthrowing wide open receivers or throwing slightly behind them.
As we are accustomed to seeing, the Cowboys Offensive-line provided Romo with ample time to get rid of the ball, with superb upfront blocking.
It appeared that Romo wasn't patient with himself, as he seemed to force plays during the first half. But he slowly found his receivers and started to settle down.
The Cowboys have size and speed in their receiving core, they were easily able to outrun the Buccaneers secondary. The yards after the catch had me thinking T.O. who?
One big improvement for Romo was 0 interceptions. Still playing on his luck, Romo came close to turning the ball over more than once when he was flushed out of the pocket.
Luckily for the Cowboys Romo's improvisation was limited and didn't cost them in turnovers today. Perhaps Garrett is wielding control over this team after all.
The Cowboys can consider the Buccaneers as a full dress rehearsal, with next weeks opponent being the New York Giants in Dallas.
Romo will need to be more on target against the Giants than he was against the Buccaneers, for the margin for error will be a whole lot smaller.