Jason Witten has found his way into the record books once again.
Witten became only the second tight end in history to join the exclusive 1,000-catch club on Monday night against Washington, strengthening his case for Canton whenever he decides to call it a career.
San Diego’s Antonio Gates (827), Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller (571) and Carolina’s Greg Olsen (527) are the closest active tight ends to Witten.
“I’m just humbled by it to join that list of names, some of the best players to play the game. A lot of Hall of Famers and to do it at the tight end position, I just can’t thank all the people that helped me get to that point,” said Witten, who kept the ball. “A lot of great teammates, a lot of great coaches, a good quarterback too.”
Witten reached the milestone in the second quarter, hauling in a 7-yard pass from quarterback Matt Cassel. He had an 11-yard reception for a first down earlier in the series for catch No. 999.
Witten doing it on Monday came as no surprise. He entered needing only two receptions to reach the mark, and had caught at least two passes in 184 of 202 career games. Witten finished with five catches for 45 yards.
Witten became the 12th player in NFL history with 1,000 catches. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald accomplished the feat on Sunday.
“Nobody is more deserving,” owner Jerry Jones said. “Of all the people I’ve met since I’ve been in the NFL – players, commissioners, owners, coaches – he’s in the top five of all the people I’ve met in the NFL. He’s an outstanding individual.”
It’s quite a feat for anybody, particularly a player drafted in the third round of the 2003 draft. But Witten has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the game over the past decade.
He has four 1,000-yard receiving seasons so far in his career, and had a seven-year stretch with at least 73 receptions (2007-13). Outside of his ability in the passing game, Witten has also been praised for his blocking skills and is regarded as arguably the best all-around tight end in the game.
Witten expressed some disappointment earlier this week that his 1,000th catch wouldn’t come from quarterback Tony Romo, who he has shared a significant amount of his success with.
But, as Witten said on Friday, “I’m honored and humbled through this entire process to even think about joining that list. I guess it’s a bummer that Tony is not going to be the guy to do it just because so much of our success was together, but ultimately I don’t need a catch number to define our success and our journey together.
“I’ll look back on how I got there and he was a huge part of that and still is a huge part of my success, our success together, so I don’t think that will affect it.”
Witten has caught 649 of his career passes from Romo. That is by far the most from any one quarterback (Vinny Testaverde ranks second with 87 followed by Drew Bledsoe (82) and Jon Kitna (64).
The 1,000 catch club is the second milestone Witten has reached this season. He also passed Bob Lilly for most consecutive games played in Cowboys history.
More than the records, though, Witten has been all about trying to bring a championship back to the Cowboys. He has never played in the Super Bowl, let alone the NFC Championship.
“I believe I can play at a high level and be a difference maker on passing game and I don’t really worry about that that this point,” Witten said. “Ultimately it’s about winning and I think it’s been clearly stated over my career here and recently that championships are what you want and need. So I think that’s all I focus on.
“I don’t know what that catch number means. I know I just take it one year at a time and one game at a time in how I can go out there and create a matchup and hopefully take advantage of them when my number is called.”
Jason Witten’s totals by QBs