Jason Witten's blocking helped Cowboys' Kellen Moore stay upright

IRVING, Texas -- Tight end Jason Witten, one of 12 players with 1,000 catches, has made a career of being a security blanket for quarterbacks.

Usually, it's as a receiver. Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, he did it as a blocker.

The Dallas Cowboys used their 10-time Pro Bowl tight end frequently as a blocker in max protection schemes to ensure quarterback Kellen Moore had ample time in the pocket to throw the ball in his first NFL start.

It worked, considering Buffalo did not not sack Moore, who threw 31 passes.

The downside, of course, is that Witten caught just one pass for 12 yards. Moore threw tight end James Hanna four passes, twice as many as he threw to Witten. Theoretically, that should never happen.

It's just the fourth time since 2010 Witten has been held to one catch.

"Anybody who's ever watched our football team play knows how much we like to throw the ball to Jason Witten," coach Jason Garrett said. "He's a really, really good football player and has been for a number of years.

"He does a lot of things really well, and one of those is run routes and catch the football. In this game, because of the number of pressures they bring, we felt like it was important to block it up a little bit."

The Cowboys wanted to use Witten in pass protection because Buffalo's scheme is predicated on confusion, and the Bills make it difficult to identify the players that are rushing and that are dropping into coverage.

Witten rarely gets fooled.

"One of Witt's great strengths is his ability to go do anything we ask him to do," Garrett said. "He's a very good route runner and makes a lot of little plays in the passing game. He's a good run blocker, but also a very good pass protector."