PHILADELPHIA – It doesn't really matter who lines up alongside Dez Bryant at receiver, as long as they keep having games like this.
It's safe to call it a trend now. For the third straight week since the Cowboys lost to San Diego, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley – considered the third and fifth options, respectively, at wideout in the preseason – made the opposition pay for focusing on Bryant.
Sure, Bryant had a great game of his own with eight catches for 110 yards in the 17-3 win against the Eagles. But while Philadelphia focused on No. 88, the two youngsters combined for 124 yards and a touchdown.
"Man, I love it. We talk about it each and every day at practice, about taking advantage of our opportunities," Bryant said. "We believe in one another, and we believe any one of the receivers can make a big play."
The Cowboys' first possession of the fourth quarter demonstrated exactly that. Bryant, ever the bell cow of the Cowboys' passing attack, delivered on his end with two catches for 26 yards, but it was Beasley and Williams who shined in the clutch.
Beasley gained 13 yards on two big red zone catches, including one on third and two, to move Dallas inside the Philadelphia 10-yard line.
"I think Beasley today showed everyone that he's got great hands, great vision, and he's just got instinct about getting open," Jones said. "That's a major plus for a wide receiver. It can make a big impact."
Once there, Tony Romo found Williams for their fifth connection of the day – a nine-yard touchdown to seal the win.
"Terrance Williams has improved as much as maybe anyone I've seen in the six months that he's been here," Romo said. "It usually takes wide receivers a while to get to that point, but he continually takes coaching and does the things you need to do to improve and it's just a testament to his work ethic and his commitment to the football team. You love having guys like that."
It's been quite a ride for both receivers since the first few weeks of the season. Beasley could have made a bigger impact on the Cowboy's first two games if he had bought a ticket. The diminutive receiver was made inactive for the season opener against New York and the Week 2 trip to Kansas City.
His involvement in the gameplan has improved every week since the Week 3 win against. St. Louis.
Williams' bounce back from his goal line fumble in the loss to the Chargers has been a sight to behold. In the buildup to that Week 4 game, Williams caught a combined five passes for 60 yards in three games.
In the three games since that fumble, his collective tally is a fantastic 12 catches for 249 yards and three touchdowns – a score in every game.
"Each of those guys in their role has stepped up over the last few weeks and I think Tony has a real comfort level with them and he is not afraid to go to them at all," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "In fact, when there is a match up that is favorable for us involving those guys he throws the ball there with confidence."
It's obvious from looking at the stats, but the boost in big plays has come at someone else's expense. Since returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the San Diego and Denver games, Milles Austin has been targeted a total of seven times for no yards.
Jones said Austin's hamstring injury has left him behind the offense as he re-enters the lineup. But Jones said he isn't worried, as Austin's health will continue to improve. But it has to be noted that, even when the Cowboys lined up in their four and five wide receiver sets, Austin didn't often find his way to the field against the Eagles.
"I think you have to recognize that he's working through his situation with his recovery, and it's, if anything, being conservative there – if that," Jones said. "But what's really great is the way our other guys are stepping up, and you know you've got Miles coming."
The Cowboys would undoubtedly love for that to prove true. But even if it doesn't, they appear to be in good hands.