With just 1:37 remaining in Sunday’s season opener and the Dallas Cowboys trailing the New York Giants by six points, tight end Jason Witten never felt the game had gotten away. Even though the Cowboys were 72 yards from the goal line and fresh out of timeouts.
“We were very calm on the sideline,’’ Witten said. “The guys were just standing there ready.”
According to Witten, the Cowboys took their cue from quarterback Tony Romo, who showed so much grace under pressure when the game was still hanging in the balance. And it was Romo who guided the Cowboys down the field and ultimately tossed an 11-yard touchdown to Witten with just seven seconds remaining as Dallas eked out a wild 27-26 victory at AT&T Stadium.
On the winning TD, Witten said: “Tony, he’s calling (the play) at the line. He gave us the route. We knew they had Cover 2, and it was just kind of get to the sticks, which was the end zone in that case.”
The winning TD helped the Cowboys overcome a 26-13 deficit with under six minutes left in the game and secure a critical home game against an NFC East opponent.
“It was a big throw by Tony with the timing,” said Witten, who had eight receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns. “Tony just does such a great job of communicating and getting to the line, getting to the right look and we were able to execute.”
For the Cowboys, the season-opening victory did not come without a price, as owner Jerry Jones said wide receiver Dez Bryant will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right foot. That could cause a disruption in the immediate future for the Cowboys, although receiver Terrance Williams hauled in five passes for 60 yards against the Giants.
“You never replace a guy like Dez,” Witten said. “That guy is great. Dez is phenomenal. The energy that he brings and the level that he plays at, that’s a tough blow for our team. But guys are going to have to step in.”
Bryant, a contract holdout who injured a hamstring during training camp, was playing his first game since the 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers last January in the NFC semifinals. He sat out all four preseason games, and even left Sunday’s game after the first quarter with dehydration.
“You hate it for Dez just because what all he’s capable of doing and how much he loves being a teammate and being a player on this team,’’ Witten said of Bryant’s injury. “But we’re confident in our guys, and guys will step up.
“Terrance had a good spring and causes some mismatches, and I’m sure he’ll come in and fill the spot.”
The Cowboys definitely will need someone to step up in Bryant’s absence. They know they can’t keep expecting to rally from a 13-point deficit with less than six minutes remaining in the game.
“It was a wild game, man, some crazy things happened,’’ Witten said. “The defense really came up with some big stops.
“Like I said, we’ve got a lot to clean up. But that was a big win for our football team.”