ARLINGTON, Texas – Jason Witten has always been known as a player who leaves it all out on the field. In Sunday’s season-opening win over the Giants, the Cowboys’ tight end also left his lunch on the sideline.
En route to catching 8 passes for 70 yards, including both touchdown passes thrown by Tony Romo, the television cameras caught Witten throwing up on the sideline at AT&T Stadium.
“I’ve always got a weak stomach and get it out of me,” Witten chuckled. “You guys just happened to see it.”
What no one had seen before was Witten catching two touchdown passes from Romo in a game. Hard to believe for a guy considered Romo’s most trusted target, but the only other two-touchdown games Witten has had were quarterbacked by Jon Kitna and Vinny Testaverde.
“I didn’t know that,” Witten said. “I’m glad it happened. We worked a lot on the red zone and that was an emphasis for me and our team. It was good to capitalize on those plays and get us a lead.”
Witten’s first touchdown catch was a 15-yarder in the middle of the end zone. With LeBron James watching from the owner’s suite, Witten basically posted up Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich to get in position to make the catch.
Witten surpassed 9,000 receiving yards with that catch, becoming only the third tight end to reach that career mark.
He also caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Romo in the third quarter to put the Cowboys up 27-10. The Cowboys went on to a 36-31 win.
Last season, Witten caught 110 passes but just three for touchdowns. He nearly matched his 2012 touchdown catch total in the first game of 2013.
“That was an area that I really focused on last year,” Witten said. “I had a bunch of catches and only three touchdowns. That’s something we’ve worked a lot on.”
Finishing drives has been a problem for the Cowboys in recent seasons. If the opener is any indication, going to Witten more often in the red zone could solve that since there aren’t many linebackers who can cover Witten.
“You see it across the league, that’s a mismatch in a lot of ways,” Witten said. “I feel like we take advantage of it a lot from 20 [yard line] to 20 [yard line], you want to see it capitalized and finish it off in the red zone. I was happy to see it pay off like that.”
Witten had six of his catches in the first half as the Cowboys quickly recognized the Giants were putting a safety on wide receiver Dez Bryant at all times.
Bryant had been the talk of the preseason and is expected to have a monster year. With Bryant getting so much attention, Witten was able to flourish.
“Obviously any time 88’s on the field he’s going to draw attention,” Witten said. “He’s a phenomenal receiver, going to have a great year. A couple of times him and I were on the same side, that makes it tough for the defense.”
It’s not like the Giants forgot about Witten. He caught 18 passes against them in the teams’ second meeting last season. But Witten has always had a knack for finding soft spots in a coverage and Romo has always been able to find him.
“They were trying to reroute him at the line of scrimmage, double him a lot of different ways,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He [Romo] and Witten have just played so much football together, they see things the same way. He found him a place to throw it and Tony delivered.”
Witten also delivered a thousand internet sites some great video of his gastric ailment on the sideline. For Witten, it was just another display of his passion for the game.
“It’s a fight out there, man,” Witten said. “It was a grind. Just an emotional game.”