Jason Witten keeps piling up catches
Tight end's milestone 600th career reception highlights his 10-catch, 140-yard day
ARLINGTON, Texas -- In a suite tucked into the corner of an end zone inside Cowboys Stadium, C.J. and Cooper Witten, wearing their blue No. 82 jerseys with "Daddy" written on the back, were unaware of what exactly happened when everybody around them started screaming.
They just knew it involved their dad.
Not 150 feet from where his boys; wife, Michelle; and other family and friends were sitting, Jason Witten had the most historic catch of his career for a 14-yard touchdown.
Years from now, the Cowboys' 2010 season will be remembered more for the disappointment of missing the playoffs when Super Bowl XLV was being played in their stadium and the midseason firing of coach Wade Phillips.
But whenever Witten decides to retire, he can remember the 600th catch of his career in the second quarter of Sunday's closer-than-it-should-have-been 33-30 win against Washington.
Witten was not even supposed to be involved in the play. Before the snap he was lined up in the backfield, then motioned out wide in an attempt to spread the middle of the field for Austin. Washington double-teamed Austin, which left Witten alone.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall closed quickly, but Witten shrugged off the tackle attempt at the 8 and was able to glide in for his seventh touchdown of the season.
"All those things that unfolded for that play to make it the 600th, it's a little bit surreal right now for sure," said Witten, who pointed to his family as he crossed the goal line. "To get a win on top of it, that's even better because you play to win games, not to get records."
Witten finished with 10 catches for 140 yards, giving him 605 receptions for his career. He is only the fourth tight end in NFL history to reach 600 catches. No tight end did it in fewer games. Sunday's was the 125th of Witten's career. Atlanta's Tony Gonzalez did it in 134. Shannon Sharpe did it in 155. Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome did it in 160.
"It's humbling just because I grew up a football junkie and those are the guys you watched," Witten said. "Shannon and Gonzalez, not trying to make him look old, and even being at Tennessee I knew about Ozzie Newsome at Alabama. That's what you dream about, to be mentioned with them. It's definitely humbling and a huge honor, but there's a lot of other people that made it happen -- good quarterbacks, good offensive lines that afforded me to get out in those routes."
As Witten changed at his locker after the game, offensive tackle Alex Barron offered congratulations with a handshake. Jason Garrett came over and did the same.
"This guy comes to work and wants to be a great football player every minute of the day," Garrett said. "He wants to be a great blocker, a great receiver, a great teammate. He just wants to be great at it. He's a great example for me as a coach, as a great example to our other coaches. He's a great example to his teammates."
Receiver Sam Hurd talked about how fortunate he felt to be "in the same atmosphere as someone like that." Kicker David Buehler talked about the prideful feeling he has when Witten offers him praise. Quarterback Jon Kitna said Witten "makes the quarterback position easy."
Kitna threw 12 passes in Witten's direction Sunday and completed 10. They had not missed a connection on a pass in the previous three games. The 140 yards were a season high for Witten and marked the 15th time in his career he has had more than 100 yards in a game. This was the third time he's had 10 catches in a game this season. He has a touchdown catch in three straight games.
Witten has 82 catches for 911 yards on the season, and his seven touchdowns tie a career high.
"You hate to say it, but it was kind of a typical day for him," Kitna said. "It's what you expect from him."
Witten could be No. 2 all-time among tight ends by 2012. He needs 58 more receptions to pass Newsome (662) and 211 to pass Sharpe (815). Gonzalez (1,057 entering Sunday) continues to move the all-time bar with his success in Atlanta.
"Oh gosh, no chance," Witten joked about the record. "I don't know, man. I don't try to get too far ahead of myself. To get to this point is awesome, but we'll just see one game at a time."