#3: Jason Witten doesn't need a helmet!
Week 9; Dallas Cowboys versus Philadelphia Eagles
It was the test of the season for Dallas; three straight division games following a bye week. Those games would determine just how good the Cowboys were and hardly anyone was confident they would win all three. With the exception of a stressful ending against Washington, the Cowboys dominated and won all three games. Tony Romo threw 11 touchdowns in those games, seven to Terrell Owens. The defense played with intensity and made key plays in all the right places to ensure the win. The first win against Philadelphia was the most complete of the trip and helped set the tone for what would come. But nothing that happened in the span of those three weeks even came close to the excitement caused by Jason Witten losing a helmet.
When the fourth quarter started, the game was already well in hand. Leading 35-10 the Cowboys had chased the majority of Eagle fans from their own stadium, leaving a eerie silence to settle over the field. It was so quiet that during the third quarter audiences could clearly hear Romo call out "TO!", just before he threw a touchdown pass to his favorite receiver. The Eagles had also started to show their frustration as well when Julius Jones was slammed by a helmet to helmet hit in the third quarter. And while Philly dug themselves even farther into a hole, the Cowboys never let their foot off the collective throats of the Eagles.
Driving with the ball in the fourth, Romo sidestepped pressure in the pocket and found Jason Witten open on the right hashmark. Witten caught the ball and was immediately sandwiched by two Eagles defenders. As he turned upfield he was speared with a helmet to helmet hit by safety Quintin Mikell while the defender on his back ripped at his. The result was two Eagles flying to the ground and Jason Witten running full speed down the field.
Without a helmet.
Witten rumbled toward the endzone for another 31 yards before being taken down from behind at the 6 yard line. In the box score it shows a simple 53 yard pass completion, but in the context of the 2007 season it was so much more. The game was already in hand and victory was a sure thing. There was no need for Witten to put himself at risk of further harm and no one would have blamed him for going down once his helmet was off. But that is just not the type of man Jason Witten is. His fearlessness and unwavering desire to put everything on the line for his team was the perfect example of how far the Cowboys had come in a few short years.
In the 5-11 days the team was filled with selfish egos, players who were only interested in getting their paycheck and moving on with their life. While the present Cowboys certainly have some big egos in the locker room, every single one of them is devoted to the team as a whole and doing anything and everything it takes to win a game. Can anyone here not picture Terrell Owens, Marion Barber or heck, even Patrick Crayton, doing the exact same thing if put in Witten's shoes? Although it wasn't a 30 yard run, Romo already had one himself when he scrambled upfield without a helmet after avoiding a sack. Like Marion Barber's miraculous run, Witten's helmet-less romp is a play that will be shown in NFL highlight films for years to come. Can't complain about that.