Cowboys tight end Jason Witten ran off the field with the game ball after his 5-yard touchdown catch. But he got another in the postgame locker room to cap an emotional celebration.
“It’s a great team win, one of the best team wins I’ve ever been around, but I do want to feature and highlight one particular guy – our tight end, the guy who caught the last touchdown, the game-winning touchdown,” Jason Garrett said to cheers in the locker room after the Cowboys’ 29-23 victory. “There have been a lot of amazing football players who have played for this franchise since 1960, and there’s no player that’s started more consecutive games. There’s no player that’s played in more games. He’s a big-time Pro Bowler. But that’s not the story. The story is what he does every single day. He’s an inspiration to me, to the coaching staff and I know to you guys.”
Screaming and shouts of “speech” followed.
Witten calls it one of the most memorable moments of his career.
“It meant a lot,” Witten said Thursday. “I mean, I think, certainly over the course of my career I’ve tried to play at a high level and really worked hard to be a part of a team that plays in those type of games and gets a start to a season like this. At the end of it, you put all this time and energy in and try to play at this level and lead and do all those different things, but the real emotion of being in the locker room, that’s something that you can’t hide. For your teammates to view you that way, for coach Garrett to honor me in such a way, it’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”
Witten told his teammates, “This isn’t about me, man,” and later added “The story’s just getting written, boy.”
Witten has won only two playoff games since he arrived in Dallas as a third-round pick in 2003.
“I think so many times when you have these real emotional games, you have this feeling of what’s taken place to this point,” Witten said Thursday. “I think just in my experiences, what I’ve learned is the teams that are able to accept where they’re at and appreciate that, then go back to work and realize it’s a long season, I think the best players and best teams in this league kind of approach it that way. That’s really my reminder. We’re just getting started, and I believe that. We can continue to improve. This team has that chip on its shoulder going back to last year, and knowing there’s a style of play we have to play in order to give ourselves a chance to win. I think we’ve kind of bought into that and guys believe it. So I wanted them to know that I do believe we’re just getting started, that the next chapter is even greater than what we’ve experienced so far.”