I, and I'm sure many others, felt better after stellar performances by Dwayne Harris, last year's sixth-round draft pick, and Kevin Ogletree. The duo battling for the third wide receiver spot combined for 193 yards on eight receptions.
Harris turned two those into touchdowns, including a 61-yarder on a perfectly placed toss by quarterback Tony Romo on the Cowboys second drive. His next touchdown of the night was perhaps even more impressive as he split and powered through two Rams defenders en route to the 38-yard score.
Jason Garrett definitely has a difficult decision moving forward on which of the two receivers he will pencil as the No. 3. By their performances last night, I would be happy with 3A and 3B.
Some may look at the performance and think, "It was against the Rams, not a top contender." I can agree with that, but it's not like Jeff Fisher is a slouch at knowing defense and it's not like the St. Louis defense is riddled with no-names or has-beens. It consists of solid players like Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan and Quintin Mikell.
But, there's even more good news when it comes to the passing game during the Cowboys 20-19 win. It wasn't just the wide receivers stepping up. John Phillips and this year's sixth-round pick James Hanna had solid outings while Witten was idle recovering from a lacerated spleen.
Phillips' total for the night was 10 yards on one reception, but two other receptions, both on the team's opening drive, were negated by the scabs from D-II football that were officiating the game. The first was on Dallas' first drive of the night when the 6-foot-5 target out of Virginia hauled in an 8-yard pass on the seam, cradling it as he went to the ground. Once his forearm hit the ground, the ball popped out, a normally easy call for the refs to make as the ground cannot cause a fumble.
The ball was not rotating in Phillips' arms, nor did it move until he made contact with the ground. To everyone else in the United States, it was a reception. For the officiating crew at Cowboys Stadium, it was an incompletion.
That wasn't even the worst call on a Phillips reception. Later that same drive, Romo made a perfect pass down the middle which would have been a 21-yard game. The officials called pass interference against the tight end when there was very little or no contact made.
The passing game was successful against the Rams, and it's encouraging that Romo had no hesitation in throwing to receivers not named Austin, Bryant or Witten. For now, the receiving position appears to be moving up or down, depending on how you look at it, on the list of concerns. Now the starters need to get healthy.
John Ingle is a graduate of the Midwestern State University Mass Communication program with an emphasis in journalism. He is a lifelong Dallas Cowboys and football fan dating back to the late 1970s and covered the Cowboys as a journalism intern during two training camps at MSU. Follow him on Twitter @inglejohn1973.
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- Jason Witten
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- Dez Bryant
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