Rams Vs. Cowboys: St. Louis Can't Stop Tony Romo In 20-19 Defeat

The St. Louis Rams came up short against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.

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17 Total Updates since August 21, 2012
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Dallas Cowboys' Dwayne Harris Gets Star Turn Courtesy St. Louis Rams

The Dallas Cowboys' preseason star, after their 20-19 win Saturday, is Dwayne Harris, a wide receiver who caught zero regular season passes in 2011 but picked up two touchdowns in rapid succession on highlight-reel plays with Tony Romo. He has the St. Louis Rams to thank for that.

Unfortunately enough for fans who've been waiting for Janoris Jenkins to fulfill the seemingly endless projections made for him in his rookie seasons, the Rams' cornerbacks did most of their star-making for Romo and Harris. (Blogging the Boys has some photographic evidence of Kevin Ogletree crossing Jenkins over and leaving him, uh, less than star-like and stumbling on the Cowboys Stadium turf.)

All this, of course, comes with the strongest disclaimer available to a football fan: This is Pretend Week 3 of the preseason. Dwayne Harris wasn't necessarily going to make the Cowboys last week; Jenkins has played all of three games in the NFL, and a month-and-a-half ago wasn't even signed.

So as exciting as this probably was to Cowboys fans, and as terrible as it most definitely was to this Rams fan, there's still plenty of time for Dwayne Harris to be back doing kick returns and Janoris Jenkins not falling over in coverage. Harris is a star this week, but he won't always be pretend-playing the Rams.

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Rams Vs. Cowboys Score: Dwayne Harris Is Tony Romo's New Best Friend

The Dallas Cowboys exploited the St. Louis Rams' young secondary relentlessly in the first quarter of their preseason matchup Saturday night, with Tony Romo finishing 9-for-13 with 198 yards and two touchdowns. You might not be too shocked that these Rams trail these Cowboys by a score of 17-3, but it hasn't all been seasoned veterans against scrappy underdogs: Romo's most devastating target so far, with two touchdowns and 99 yards receiving, has been Dwayne Harris, a sixth-rounder who didn't catch a single pass last year.

That's likely to change, based on Saturday night's performance. Harris's first touchdown came on a 61-yard reception, and his second came as he avoided two touchdowns to take the ball 28 yards into the end zone. Romo targeted multiple receivers all quarter, but Harris had the two hammer-blows to the Rams' defense.

The Rams' offense, meanwhile, has sputtered, with Sam Bradford getting sacked twice and the only points coming on a 55-yard field goal from impressive rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein. Aside from a nice pass down the sideline to Lance Kendrick, the offense hasn't shown much at all; the special teams have been better at moving the ball downfield, with Isaiah Pead breaking off kick returns over 30 and 40 yards.

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Rams Vs. Cowboys Score: Tony Romo Connects With Dwayne Harris To Give Dallas 10-0 Lead

The Dallas Cowboys were held to a field goal after a long first drive against the St. Louis Rams Saturday, but the Rams' secondary couldn't hold them a second time—Tony Romo connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris to put the Cowboys up 10-0, a drive after the Rams' offensive line was unable to give Sam Bradford time to work.

Romo's now 6-for-10 with 126 yards on the night. He's been able to find all his targets—even beleaguered running back Felix Jones, who has a 14-yard reception to his credit. Harris, who's seen a lot of preseason action, is still looking for his first career regular-season reception after latching onto the Cowboys last season as a return man, following his selection in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. This should help.

The Rams' defense continues to show promise in its first preseason under new head coach Jeff Fisher, but it'll make, all season, the kind of young-player mistakes that a veteran like Tony Romo will eventually figure out how to exploit.

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Rams Vs. Cowboys: Sam Bradford Sacked In First Series Saturday Night

The Dallas Cowboys broke through the St. Louis Rams' new offensive line Saturday night during the Rams' first offensive series in Cowboys Stadium, with Sam Bradford going down for an eight-yard loss a week after the offensive line held vs. the Kansas City Chiefs and he put together his most impressive performance since injuries struck last season. It was a bad case of deja vu for Rams fans; their season depends on Bradford's ability to stay upright long enough to pass to the new wide receivers.

Bradford was 1-for-2 in the first series, missing on a pass to Lance Kendricks but connecting for 14 yards to Brandon Gibson. Tony Romo's excellent start—6-for-10, 126 yards and one touchdown—gives the impression that there'll be the usual whispers about Bradford's future if he and the offensive line aren't able to stay synchronized in the next drive.

Fisher's been cagey about just how much his starters will play over the rest of the preseason, but it'd be nice to see Bradford get a few more chances—if that doesn't mean the offensive line kills him.

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St. Louis Rams' Rebuilt Offensive Line Finally Available For Sam Bradford Vs. Cowboys

If Sam Bradford seems a little more ambulatory than usual Saturday night, while you're watching the Rams vs. Cowboys game, there's a reason: center Scott Wells will finally play. The St. Louis Rams signed him to a four-year, $24 million deal in the offseason, and he represents their only major attempt to upgrade an offensive line that was almost vindictively bad in front of Bradford all last year.

Wells, a seventh-round pick back in 2004, made his first Pro Bowl last year but had been starting on the Green Bay Packers' somewhat more successful offensive line since 2006. He probably won't play a lot in Pretend Week 3, but his performance in the regular season will play a big part in whether Sam Bradford finally breaks out, or at least avoids breaking down, in his third year as the Rams' beleaguered starting quarterback.

Spending draft picks on offensive linemen hasn't worked extremely well for the Rams so far; here's hoping spending money goes better. The Rams, 1-1 in the Pretend Season, and the Cowboys meet at Cowboys Stadium at 7:00 PM CDT.

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Dallas Cowboys Will Watch Felix Jones Closely Vs. Rams

Four seasons into his career Felix Jones has concerned the Dallas Cowboys in a lot of ways—primarily in his struggles to stay on the field—but they rarely had to worry about his ability to run really fast on really short notice; in 458 attempts he's averaged 5.1 career yards per carry since being their first-round pick back in 2008. In the 2012 preseason, however, he's looked out of shape and mediocre according to most observers; most recently he got a Jerry Jones vote of confidence, which is the kind of thing you don't really want to need.

His roster spot—if you believe Jerry—isn't in doubt, but Felix Jones's performance as the Cowboys' change-of-pace back is one of the things most worth watching when the St. Louis Rams take them on in Pretend Week 3. Felix Jones is never going to carry a heavy workload, but at 25 he should still be looking for another gear as a dynamic offensive weapon, not struggling to stick around as their backup running back.

Rams fans will probably be busy watching Sam Bradford try to connect with his wide receivers and Jeff Fisher connect with his defense, but if the Cowboys offense catches your eye you could do worse than to see whether Felix Jones looks anything like then Felix Jones you remember.

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Danario Alexander Injury: St. Louis Rams Likely To Be Without Alexander Again Sunday

The St. Louis Rams are looking to change their culture in 2012, but one thing, so far, has remained the same: The constant threat of a Danario Alexander injury. Turf Show Times reports Alexander's likely to miss Sunday's preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys; he's yet to play this year, suffering from, for a change of pace, hamstring problems.

This could be the end of the road for the Rams and Alexander; the former Mizzou star is already looking like an afterthought, despite the Rams' not-especially-strong wide receiver corps. It's been a shame: In two partial seasons with the Rams he's proven, when healthy, to be their most dynamic option, a player who, with two healthy knees, would be a future No. 1. In 2011 he was their best receiver not named Brandon Lloyd, catching 26 balls for 431 yards and two touchdowns in four starts.

Even if he improves over the remainder of the preseason, it's hard to see the Rams devoting a roster spot to a player who's proven unable to stay healthy over a 16-game NFL season. For better or worse, the rangy-high-potential-wide-receiver tag appears to have been passed permanently to rookie Brian Quick.

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