The Cowboys made it look easy in destroying the Cleveland Browns 28-10 in the season opener.
It was a Browns team that finished 10-6 last year, barely missing the playoffs.
But they were 7-1 at home and came into 2008 with high expectations of a playoff
That still might happen.
But on Sunday, they were no match for a Cowboys team that returns 13 Pro Bowlers
from last year's 13-3 team and has focused all offseason on finishing what they
started last year.
"It will look easy if we are doing the necessary things we are supposed to do,"
receiver Terrell Owens said. "This is part of the preparation for us for where we
need to go."
The victory did not come without a brief scare for the Cowboys.
Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo suffered a gash on his chin, requiring 13
stitches. But he should be fine for next week's showdown against the Eagles on
However, the Cowboys are taking a wait-and-see approach on running back Marion
Barber, who left the game in the third quarter with bruised ribs.
Postgame X-rays came back negative for a broken rib. Barber suffered some
cartilage damage to his ribs, but said he will be fine and could have gone back
But he will have to play in pain for a few weeks, if not all season. He rushed
for 80 yards and two touchdowns in what was his first start as the Cowboys'
primary running back.
But the injury raises questions about Barber's durability and his running style.
He had largely been a backup since college. There were preseason questions about
how his body could hold up as the every-down back.
"I thought it was a pretty complete game for us," coach Wade Phillips said. "We
played well in all phases of the game. The only thing I am worried about is
Marion Barber got his ribs banged up a little bit."
The good news for the Cowboys is they have a capable temporary replacement in
Felix Jones, who was drafted as a complementary back to Barber.
His change-of-pace abilities were in full effect against the Browns, as the
speedy Jones rushed for 62 yards on nine carries. He had an 11-yard touchdown run
and a 22-yard scamper.
"Felix came in and played like I thought he would," Phillips said. "We did not
expect him to get the opportunity the way that he did, but he had a good day. It
shows what our offensive line was doing the whole game.
"We left some points out there," said receiver Patrick Crayton, who caught six
passes for 82 yards. "We should have put up 42. As you can see it doesn't matter
what running back we put in there, those five guys up there are still leading the
way. We're still able to churn out yards. It was a good day offensively."
And a Browns offense that finished eighth in the NFL last year got nothing
against the Cowboys defense. Pro Bowl quarterback Derek Anderson was limited to
114 yards passing while Pro Bowl receiver Braylon Edwards was held to just two
catches for 14 yards. Tight end Kellen Winslow had five catches, just one in the
"It was great, especially against an offense like that at home," linebacker Zach
Thomas said. "We did real well. But it's all about being dominant later in the
PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES: QB Brooks Bollinger will be signed to the roster on Monday and the Cowboys will
likely cut WR Mike Jefferson, who was signed from the practice squad on Saturday.
--OL James Marten was released on Saturday. He was a third-round pick in 2007 but
never showed any development.
--CB Adam Jones started against the Browns. He was suspended for the 2007 season
for repeated violations of the personal-conduct policy. He started in place of an
injured Terence Newman. "It felt good. I have been waiting for this for a long
time," Jones said.
--QB Tony Romo suffered an injured hand and got 13 stitches on a gash under his
chin against the Browns. But he couldn't be stopped on the field, completing
passes for 320 yards and a touchdown.
--WR Patrick Crayton had six catches for 82 yards to quiet, for now, any
questions about the team's No. 2 receiver. "I don't know if it will answer any
questions at all," Crayton said. "We never had any questions."
"Hopefully it does quiet them just a little bit and let them know we can plug in
and get the job done," Crayton said.
--WR Isaiah Stanback caught the first two passes of his career against the
Browns. He filled in as the third receiver because of injuries to Miles Austin
and Sam Hurd. Austin should be ready for next Monday's game against the Eagles.
--DT Tank Johnson will get $21,875 for every game he is on the 45-man game-day
roster. All totaled he will get an extra $350,000 on his base salary of $605,000.
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