Even with the Dallas Cowboys slogging through one of the worst seasons in recent memory, I'm still going to give out game balls each week. Why? Because in this cascade of negative news, I like to take a moment to recognize someone who played well. It's a short sanity break.
So who out of that mess of a game on Sunday deserves recognition for doing something good? It wasn't easy finding a guy, but one player had a return to form on Sunday. Lost among the trash that was the Cowboys play against Jacksonville was a small gem.
Jason Witten had 10 catches for 97 yards and one touchdown on the day. This is the second week in a row that Witten has started to look like the Witten of old. Against the Giants, he had nine receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. This Sunday was his first day with double-digit catches since week 13 of the 2009 season, also against the Giants.
Jon Kitna seems inclined to use Witten often, maybe much more than Tony Romo had been recently. Witten did catch his touchdown last week from Romo early in the game, but 7 of his 9 catches last week were from Kitna, when he had a team-high 13 targets. This week, he tied with Miles Austin for a team-high 12 targets.
Kitna is also using Witten for more than third-down conversions. We love that Witten is a guy we can depend on for third-down conversions, but he's a weapon that can be used on all downs. Sometimes it felt like he was forgotten until that crucial down. On Sunday, Kitna used Witten on first or second down on 10 of his 13 throws to him.
Of course, another part of Witten's play was revealed again this past Sunday, a return to form in the tough guy department. Witten was unfazed by a helmet-to-helmet collision at the Jacksonville two-yard line. In fact, it was the Jaguars player who came up woozy, even though he was the missile and Witten was the target.
So kudos to Jason Witten, who has put together back-to-back good weeks for the Cowboys in the passing game. It's good to see #82 back in form.