Jason Witten to the rescue.
The Cowboys had no business winning Sunday, but the Pro Bowl tight end helped save the day by doing what he does.
He had the fifth two-touchdown game of his career, the biggest score Sunday night coming with seven seconds to go. It gave the Cowboys an improbable 27-26 victory over the New York Giants.
“He’s always clutch,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Are you kidding me? However many Pro Bowls he’s been to — a dozen or so, but who’s counting now — he’s obviously, in my mind, a Hall of Fame-type player. He certainly came through for us.”
Witten ranks among the best tight ends of all-time in catches and yards, but he has only 57 touchdowns in his career. That’s an average of fewer than five per season.
Jason obviously is a special player. He’s obviously close to me. It’s a great feeling to be able to see him score that winning touchdown. He’s the best.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on Jason Witten
Touchdowns are what the Cowboys needed from him against the Giants, though, with star receiver Dez Bryant in the locker room with a fractured right foot that will require surgery. Witten, who had only five scores last season, delivered two of them in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t want to say you’d expect that, but there’s no question that the guys who rose to the occasion are the ones you’d have your expectations for,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Witten caught a 1-yard touchdown from Tony Romo with 5:08 remaining that drew the Cowboys within 23-20. After the Giants tacked on a field goal, the Cowboys needed 72 yards for the victory when they got the ball back with 1:29 to go.
Running back Lance Dunbar caught two passes for 40 yards, and then Witten added a 13-yarder. That had the Cowboys at the New York 19 with 17 seconds left. Terrance Williams caught an 8-yarder to the 11 after an incompletion, setting up Witten to be the hero.
Romo managed to pick up a low snap from Travis Frederick, regain his composure and find Witten at the 1-yard line. Witten would not be denied, forcing his way into the end zone to set off a wild celebration at AT&T Stadium.
“Pretty quickly,” Romo said. “Jason obviously is a special player. He’s obviously close to me. It’s a great feeling to be able to see him score that winning touchdown. He’s the best.”
Witten caught eight passes for 60 yards, including the two touchdowns. Romo and the Cowboys will need him as much as ever now, with Bryant expected to miss 4-6 weeks after having a screw inserted into his fractured foot.
“That’s a tough loss,” Romo said of Bryant. “You can’t replace Dez Bryant. ... Nobody’s going to be Dez Bryant, but the guys can do what they do well.”
It’s what Witten has done for his career, with 943 catches for 10,502 yards entering this season.