DALLAS (CBS SPORTS) – Jason Witten surpassed Michael Irvin on Sunday night to become the Cowboys’ all-time receptions leader. Witten ended the night with seven catches to push his career total to 754, surpassing Irvin’s mark of 750 in the fourth quarter.
Though Witten was unable to celebrate the achievement on a night where the Cowboys dropped to 3-5 with a 19-13 loss to the Falcons, cementing his place in Cowboys’ history was not lost on the 10-year veteran.
“To pass Michael and what he stood for and how he worked and obviously the player he was…I mean that’s special for me,” said Witten after the game. “But ultimately…you don’t play to get catches. You play to compete for a championship and to win ballgames. That’s been my approach since day one since I arrived in Dallas and that’ll be the way until I leave.”
The record-setting catch came in the fourth quarter on the team’s lone touchdown drive of the game. The tight-end collected seven of his 51 yards for the game with the grab.
Witten reached the 750-catch mark in 151 games, eight fewer than Irvin. But Irvin still holds a significant lead in the team record for receiving yards. Witten (8,447 yards) trails Irvin (11,904 yards) by over 3,000 yards.
Tony Gonzalez, who had four catches in Sunday’s game, leads all tight ends with 1199 careers receptions in 16 seasons. Shannon Sharpe, who is now retired, collected 815 receptions in 14 seasons and is the only other tight end with more career receptions than Witten.
Witten currently leads all tight ends in receptions in 2012 with 58. If he were to maintain his current pace for the remained of the season, he would finish the season with 812 career receptions, only three shy of Sharpe’s mark.
But don’t expect Witten to care – even if he fully recognizes his place in NFL history.
“I don’t want to neglect what happened. I’m tremendously humbled,” said Witten. “From day one, when I came here as a 20-year-old kid, I was just trying to do better each time I got an opportunity.”
As Witten continues to climb the NFL ranks, it’s fair to say – the ‘kid’ has done just fine.
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