With six minutes to go, facing a three-point deficit, I was just hoping for a big play.
I should've known who Romo would be looking for.
He had just separated his shoulder before halftime. He took a pain-killer shot and was back on the field.
I should've known.
He lined up on the left side of the formation, released clean and got Brian Dawkins on his backside. He was in the seam of the defense perfectly. The strike by Romo was good but it wasn't perfect. But with him in the vicinity, it didn't have to be. He snagged it with his outstretched arms and injured shoulder. We were in the red zone. We were in position to score. We were back in business.
The man I'm talking about is, of course, Jason Witten. Not only is he an incredible competitor, but his life experience has turned him into a tough-as-nails machine who may assault the record books one day.
Except for the hollowed ground that Kellen Winslow walks on, Tony Gonzalez is the Holy Grail of tight ends. Think Eddie Murphy in "The Golden Child." He holds the records for most receptions (831), most receptions in a season (102) and receiving touchdowns (67) for his position. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Witten may catch him. He's part of a new generation of hybrid tight ends who are fast, big, athletic and integral parts of the passing game. He's already got 361 receptions in six years and he's caught more than 87 passes twice in his career, hitting the 96 receptions-mark last year. Witten has already tied the NFL record for receptions in a game by a tight end in 2007 (15) and he's already broken our club records for tight ends in receptions (361) and receiving yards (4189).
But its not just the statistics that stick about Witten. It's his personal story. He came from a home that saw spousal abuse and violence but he broke the cycle. His charitable work is substantial. He was nominated for the NFL's Man of the Year last year and he won Cowboys Man of the Year.
But then again it's not just his personal story either. It's his attitude on the field. Simply put: he's a bad a---. He blocks. He keeps going after almost getting decapitated. He hardly ever goes down after initial contact. And when the game is on the line, he delivers. Whether it's in Buffalo and Detroit last year or at home versus Philadelphia this year. He's the man you want with the game on the line.
But as much we like Witten, it would all be for naught if he didn't keep proving it to us. We liked Roy Williams too. But when his play dropped off so did our affection for him.
Which brings us back to the 6-minute mark Monday. Witten in the seam. Outstretched arms. Testing the pain threshold of an injured shoulder. Jumping to corral the ball. Perfect timing. Awesome catch. Next play Cowboys score. Thanks to Witten order is restored.
It's what I've come to look for.