Witten joins exclusive club on two-touchdown night

Posted Sunday, Sep. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Jason Witten did something Sunday he’d never done before during his stellar NFL career.

He caught two touchdown passes in one game from quarterback Tony Romo.

Romo and Witten have forged one of the most revered pass-catch duos in NFL history. The yardage has annually piled up for Witten, as it did again Sunday night when he became just the third tight end in league history to amass at least 9,000 career reception yards.

But despite entering this season with 23 career touchdown receptions from Romo, Witten had never caught more than one TD in a game from him until he caught a pair of touchdown passes during the 36-31 victory over the New York Giants before a crowd of 85,348 at AT&T Stadium.

Witten’s TD receptions of 15 and 4 yards helped the Cowboys open the season on a positive note on a night when they forced the Giants into six turnovers. The effort by Witten also helped the Cowboys win for the first time, in five tries, in their new stadium against the Giants.

Witten is in his 11th season, and this is just the third time he’s caught two touchdown passes in the same game. The previous two occasions happened against another NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles.

On Nov. 15, 2004, Witten caught touchdown passes covering 29 and 24 yards from Vinny Testaverde during a 49-21 loss to the Eagles. At the time, Romo was locked in a heated battle with Drew Henson for the Cowboys’ backup quarterback spot behind Testaverde.

Then, while Romo was out nursing an injury, Witten had TD receptions of 1 and 22 yards from Jon Kitna during a 30-27 loss to the Eagles on Dec. 12, 2010.

“It probably does surprise me,” coach Jason Garrett said, referring to this being the first time Witten has caught two TD passes from Romo in one game. “But they’re pretty good players. They’ve connected on a lot of passes.”

Overall on Sunday night, Witten had eight receptions for 70 yards. He has 9,018 career reception yardage, second only to Michael Irvin (11,904) in the storied history of the Cowboys.

Witten has rebounded since a year ago this time when the Cowboys also opened the season against the Giants. It was just 24 hours before kickoff when Witten learned he was going to be able to play in the opener.

Witten was concerned that a lacerated spleen he incurred during an Aug. 13, 2012 preseason game would not only keep him out of the opener against the Giants, but would also threaten his career.

But while Witten was mainly used as a decoy in that game against the Giants, he recovered from his injury to catch 110 passes for 1,039 yards and three touchdowns while earning his eighth Pro Bowl appearance.

Dwai Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice 

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