Washed up? Jason Witten ranks third in NFL

IRVING, Texas – The demise of Jason Witten was greatly exaggerated.

Witten struggled through what he calls “no question” the worst stretch of his career in the first few games of the season, when he had almost as many drops as catches after missing a month of practice while recovering from a lacerated spleen. He dealt with heavy criticism, calling it deserved.

But the questions about whether the 30-year-old Witten’s decline had started sure look silly six games later. He’s been as good as ever since his rough start and now is tied for third in the NFL with 66 receptions.

“You want to respond the right way by making plays and getting first downs,” Witten said. “I’ve taken a lot of pride in bouncing back. Obviously the Giants game, and really the last few weeks, there’s been (opportunities) over the middle and a connection with Tony (Romo). Need more of it moving forward.”

It’s not just that Witten has a lot of receptions over the last six games. He’s done it with remarkable efficiency, catching 58 of 70 balls thrown his way. That includes his 18-catch, 167-yard performance against the Giants, when Witten set an NFL record for receptions by a tight end in a game.

The thought of his window closing isn’t Witten’s concern. (And it should be noted that Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, one of only two tight ends with more receptions and yards than Witten, is still going strong at 36.) His focus is on maximizing the opportunity in front of him at the moment.

“You don’t look at it and say, ‘Hey, there’s a three-year stretch,’ or whatever,” Witten said. “You look at it and say, ‘Man, I definitely want to grab this moment.’ Really, not just for me. The core group of guys, that clock’s ticking for all of us. You want to take advantage of it.”