Witten breaks Cowboys’ receiving record in opener

Sports Xchange

September 11, 2017 at 1:10 am.

DALLAS — With most onlookers focusing to see what Ezekiel Elliott would do in the season opener after a tumultuous offseason, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten stole the show in the first half Sunday.

Witten’s second catch of the game, an 11-yard reception in the second quarter, boosted his game total to 18 receiving yards and his career total to 11,906. In so doing, Witten passed Michael Irvin (11,904 receiving yards) as the Cowboys’ career leader in the category.

Witten finished the game with seven catches for 59 yards, including the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the season, a 12-yard score in the second quarter that boosted their lead to 13-0.

He finished Game 1 of his 15th NFL season with 11,947 career yards.

According to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, Witten is likely to stretch that record out a bit.

“I say this in all sincerity, he’s getting better and better,” Garrett said. “He plays the game at such a high level. He keeps his body right. He’s got such a spirit and hunger.”

Witten also tied Ed “Too Tall” Jones for the most games played in Cowboys history at 224.

After Witten played a key role in helping Dallas (1-0) notch a win against the New York Giants (0-1), he was showered with praise from all levels of the organization.

“I just know what a leader he is to this team and the players,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I know I just swelled up with pride when they announced that he had broken that record. He did it in a very needed way. Every play is needed, but boy, we needed him tonight in the same way he’s done it throughout his career.”

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was 10 years old when Witten made his first NFL reception in 2003. Now Witten is shaping up as Prescott’s favorite target in the quarterback’s second NFL campaign.

“He’s a special guy,” Prescott said. “I have so much admiration for that guy and everything he does on and off the field, so being able to help him break that record, being a part of that, that was special.”

Witten caught 69 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns last season, his lowest yardage total since his rookie year. His best seasons were 2007 (96 catches, 1,145 yards, seven touchdowns) and 2012 (110-1,039-3).

He was a third-round pick in 2003 out of Tennessee.