- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2008

CLEVELAND | Tony Romo’s bloodied chin needed stitches and an X-ray, and Marion Barber’s ribs were bruised badly. The Dallas Cowboys absorbed more than a few hard knocks Sunday.

Not as many as they landed, though.

Picking apart Cleveland’s secondary with ease, Romo passed for 320 yards, Terrell Owens caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and Barber scored on a pair of 1-yard runs as the Cowboys opened a season they expect to end in the Super Bowl by overwhelming the out-of-sync Browns 28-10.

Coming off a 13-win season, which ended with a bitterly disappointing playoff loss at home to the New York Giants, the Cowboys lived up to all their preseason hype with a solid all-around performance.

“We’re ready,” said Owens, who finished with five catches for 87 yards. “Training camp and all that stuff is over with. The season is here, and this was a great start.”

With all day to throw, Romo went 24-for-32 as Dallas’ offense racked up nearly 500 yards, controlled the clock and strung together four long touchdown drives. The defense held one of the AFC’s most potent offenses to 205 yards.

Afterward, owner Jerry Jones was all smiles.

“I didn’t expect to feel this good,” he said. “I was worried to death. I thought we could lose this opener.”

Jason Witten added six catches for 96 yards, and Barber rushed for 80 on 16 carries before leaving in the third quarter holding his ribs. Coach Wade Phillips said he’s a “little worried” about Barber’s injury but wouldn’t speculate on the severity or whether the running back will be ready for Philadelphia next Monday.

On top of a strong performance on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys also got their first look at Adam “Pacman” Jones, the cornerback/punt returner/troublemaker who was recently reinstated after serving a 17-month suspension and played his first game since Dec. 31, 2006.

Starting at corner for Terence Newman, Jones was called for interference in the end zone to set up Cleveland’s only touchdown.

Surrounded by reporters afterward, Jones gushed about his new team.

“It’s going to be real hard to beat us. Period. Point blank. We’ve got a lot of talent,” he said. “This is the most talented team I’ve ever been on.”

They have big-time fans, too. Before the game, LeBron James, Cleveland’s NBA superstar and a longtime Dallas fan, hugged both Joneses and Owens.

“LeBron told me to get my popcorn ready,” Owens said, repeating a phrase T.O. made famous when he brought his show to Dallas in 2006.

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