CLEVELAND – In his Cowboys-record 155th consecutive start, Jason Witten made a move that some observers might have expected in start No. 55:
Catching a short pass from Dak Prescott in the third quarter, Witten made a subtle juke move on the Cleveland Browns' defense and turned up the sideline for 27 yards – the biggest gain on the Cowboys' final scoring drive in a dominant 35-10 victory at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"My game's never really been referenced as 'shake and bake,'" he said. "But I'll take that. That's definitely a compliment for me."
Witten got the Cowboys' offense on track with a first-quarter touchdown, his second of the season and his second in as many weeks. His game-best 134 yards were his largest receiving total since Dec. 27, 2013 against the Philadelphia Eagles (135).
Don't tell him he's lost a step in Year 14, though – even if some might have thought 100-yard receiving performances were in the rear-view mirror.
"The older you get, those are the questions that happen," Witten said. "'Can you be able to do those things?' I've said all along that I've bought into this system and what we've tried to do and our identity in the run game and try to be a complete tight end. But certainly I feel like those are matchups that I can win in.
"We just have a full group of guys who have bought into this system as skill players and each week you can move on who has those opportunities. It's great to have one of those days."
Witten now has 38 catches this season, ranking second on offense behind Cole Beasley's 43, and putting him on pace for 72. That would be his second-lowest total since 2007.
In recent years, with the construction of an elite offensive line, Dez Bryant's emergence and now rookie Ezekiel Elliott's arrival, Witten has accepted an expanded role asking him to complement a more balanced offense. Before catching the winning touchdown last week against Eagles, he moved into the backfield some to counter Philadelphia's pressure rushes with an extra blocker.
"He's great," Prescott said. "He's a great vet just to have on Sundays and really on Mondays as well. What he brings to the offense, what he brings to our team, his demeanor, the way he goes about his business and how detailed he is, he makes you want to be great."
Sunday showed Witten can still be a featured piece on offense. He now has 62 career receiving touchdowns, tying Shannon Sharpe for fourth on the league's all-time list among tight ends.
He also became the fifth tight end with a 100-yard game at 34 years-or-older, joining Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, Wesley Walls and Ben Watson.
Age is just a number for No. 82.
"Throughout my career I've always tried to challenge myself in having this high standard in the way you play," Witten said. "Sometimes in this system the way we attack, you may not get opportunities like that. But when they do, I always feel like – and I said this in training camp – I feel like I can play at that level.
"Today was a great opportunity for me to have those opportunities present themselves. I believe I can play at that high level at tight end that people see me play when I was younger."