SCREAM: Rams 34, Cowboys 14

You would actually have to pay attention to one of the non-"America's Team'' member franchises of the NFL to know this, but. … every team deals with acquisitions and injuries and money and emotions and suspensions and boos and losses and controversy.

It's just that this is the Cowboys. And this is Texas. Where every acquisition and injury and dollar and emotion and suspension and boo and loss and controversy seems bigger.

Ask the St. Louis Rams. Dane Looker's brain. Richie Incognito's mouth. Coach Scott Linehan's firing. Stephen Jackson's contract dispute. Leonard Little's haunting drunk-driving tragedy. Trent Green vs. Marc Bulger.

But wins can be a soothing balm.

Ask the St. Louis Rams again. After starting the season 0-4, they have now won two straight – including Sunday's 34-14 upset win over the beleaguered Cowboys. … who will now experience a soap-operatic sequel to last week's episode.

Every team is a mini-drama. Every team is a weekly soap opera. The Cowboys, however, are a silver(-and-blue)-screen prime-time soap opera that plays seven days a week for audiences infinitely larger than those of most other programs.

So even the little stories are big stories. And yet even the most absurd week is a normal week.

It was hoped that by the time we graduated to actual football this week, all those screaming headlines would be victims of shrinkage, put back into perspective by all that matters.

But no. Dallas is 4-3, losers of three of their last four, injury-plagued and snake-bitten and distracted.

And now the screaming is more justified.

Let's review the week of screams. … and how they all played out in the light of Sunday's result in St. Louis:

SCREAM: ROMO'S PINKIE Yes, he's that huge a difference-maker. Period. And if he could've almost played against the Rams (he was slated to be the backup to Brad Johnson, but this game skidded out of control so quickly that inserting him as a savior was never worthy of consideration) he'd better get ready to rub some dirt on it next week.

SCREAM: "CHECKDOWN JOHNSON'' My skepticism about 40-year-old Brad Johnson's ability to make plays over the long haul is well-documented. And now – again -- so is his inability to do so. Not only could Brad not throw deep. … he couldn't complete intermediate routes. … he wasn't even accurate on dump-offs.

Good guy. Smart guy. Nice career. But – as much as I hate to say "I told you so'' – it's been years since Brad last had anything to offer.

SCREAM: ROY REDUX The acquisition of receiver Roy Williams is a blockbuster any way you slice it. It involves the forfeit of two premier-round picks (a first and a third), it involves a marquee skill-position player, and it is not ridiculous to note that it is a cog that must interact with the squeakiest of wheels in Terrell Owens.

Against the Rams, Roy was targeted once when it mattered, as Johnson floated an inaccurate lob toward him at the goalline. Otherwise, the newcomer was pretty much the fourth receiver, and finished with zero receptions. Is that a comment on Williams' capacity for learning an offense? Naw. Is that a comment on the coaching staff's inability to quickly integrate him? I don't think so. Is that a comment on Brad Johnson's shortcomings? It had better be nothing grander than that.

SCREAM: HOW'S FELIX FEELIN'? Rookie running back Felix Jones' hammy problem meant the absence of a guy averaging nine yards per carry, a guy ranked No. 2 in the NFC in kickoff returns, a guy who gives MB3 a blow, a guy who can take an underneath checkdown and go all the way. I don't want to overstate his importance – Felix isn't single-handedly making up a 20-point deficit – but maybe his absence was part of an enthusiasm-related trickle-down effect. Didn't the Cowboys seem to lack a spark of urgency? Isn't Felix Jones the sort of athlete who specializes in igniting that spark?

SCREAM: ON THE MAT Mat McBriar injury means the absence of a guy who, for the last few seasons, has been as consistently excellent at his job as DeMarcus Ware has been at his. When McBriar went down in Arizona, there was an understandable "what-else-can-go-wrong?'' knee-jerk; on that one play, Dallas embarrassingly blew a punt-protection assignment, lost a player to a season-ending injury and lost a dramatic game.

New punter Sam Paulescu's got one thing going for him coming out of St. Louis: As a result of Dallas' offensive ineptitude, Sam got to exercise his punting leg five times.

SCREAM: WITHER PACMAN? How big a story is the fight/suspension/disappearance of the Cowboys' controversial corner? "Joe The Plumber'' had nothing on "Adam The Pacman,'' that's how big.

There is no downplaying the impact of his absence. Dallas loses a player at a position where Terence Newman is already down. Dallas was counting on Pacman to bust a punt return here real soon. Dallas had players who considered Pacman a friend and an inspirational success story (though there are certainly others who viewed him as an unnecessary pain in the butt).

The Cowboys' secondary suddenly seems pretty mortal. Fox studio analyst Michael Strahan mumbled something at halftime about the absence of Newman/Jones being insignificant because the Cowboys "weren't doing anything'' when that pair was with the team.

Um, Michael, the Cowboys started 3-0 with them. The Cowboys were better with their pair of Pro Bowl-level cornerbacks than there are without them.

Amid all the Cowboys hate, is that so hard to comprehend?

SCREAM: "DR. JERRY'' When coach Wade Phillips this week mock-deferred to his owner's opinion of Romo's pinkie-related options, Wade referred to the boss as "Dr. Jerry.'' It was meant to be funny, and to those who understand the relationship between these men, it was.

Much of the country, however, took it as a hint of disgruntlement. Took it as a sign of lame-duckness on the part of the coach. Used it as another reason to trot out the hoary Jerry Jones/Al Davis/George Steinbrenner parallels.

Washington columnist Leonard Shapiro wrote that Jerry is Dallas' only "leader.'' And he didn't mean it as a compliment. Fox's John Czarnecki, who I have known and respected for many years, wrote ominously, "There is no question that Jones is more than simply the owner/general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. He is much, much more.'' And indeed he is. But in this case, what "Dr. Jerry'' was was a man making a paid radio-show appearance.

In other words, Jerry Jones isn't really a doctor. He just played one on radio.

At the same time, he is more than welcome to be a leader, too.


Remember that incredibly crippling OT loss in Arizona? The one from which Dallas would find it difficult to rebound? The one that had the sky falling in Dallas?

Well, yes, you remember it now. Because it's part of a bookend with the St. Louis game. So the sky is sorta saggy right now.

Now all these screams will echo their way back into our eardrums this week. But that goes with the territory of being the Cowboys. You see, if a scream occurs in the NFL forest and nobody is there to hear it. … well, it couldn't have been a scream about the Cowboys. Because every sports fan in American hears those.

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