Cowboys' Jason Witten Breaks Single-Season Record for Receptions by a Tight End

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 23, 2012

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten set the single-season record for receptions by a player at his position in Week 16's home matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

ESPN's Trey Wingo acknowledged Witten's historic achievement on Twitter:

And Jason Witten with his 103rd grab of the season, most ever by a TE in a single season

— trey wingo (@wingoz) December 23, 2012

Although the Cowboys lost a critical game 34-31 in overtime that had huge playoff ramifications, this is a record that should not go unnoticed, especially with the increasing prominence of tight ends in the passing game.

In that context, Witten has been somewhat ahead of his time. Even on a day where stud WR Dez Bryant snagged nine passes for 224 yards, Witten still managed six grabs for 60 yards.

Witten may not get all the hype of the elite tight ends in the game with flashier games and superior athleticism—like his Saints counterpart Jimmy Graham or the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, for example. However, the seven-time Pro Bowler has been essentially unprecedented in terms of how consistent his production has been as a receiving tight end.

This year has been a bit of a down year in terms of touchdowns, as Witten has found the end zone only twice. But that doesn't diminish how impressive this season has been.

QB Tony Romo often looks to Witten as his security blanket. The receiving workhorse finds the soft spots in zones, creates mismatches with linebackers and is a huge reason why the Cowboys offense is so explosive.

If Dallas is to pull out a victory in the finale against the division rival Washington Redskins to sneak into the playoffs, the game plan will heavily feature Witten, who will look to add to his record in a very favorable matchup. The Redskins struggle mightily defending tight ends, and it should be no different in Week 17.

He may not get the recognition of his younger peers with more dynamic skill sets and personalities, but Witten's quiet achievement reflects his steadiness and how much value he brings to the Cowboys each year.

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