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Game Notes: Witten Has Record Day

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys tight end Jason Witten had a career afternoon against the Denver Broncos, registering a game-high nine catches for 82 yards and one crucial touchdown.

But he said that kind of effort is wasted when it doesn't help the team win.

"It's kind of worthless after you come away with a loss," Witten said following the Cowboys' 24-21 overtime loss to the Broncos. "It doesn't really matter or anything. But in the big scheme of things, I felt early on I had some opportunities there and tried to take advantage of them."

The Broncos' Jeb Putzier led his team with 69 receiving yards while Rod Smith led with five catches. On the Cowboys, Keyshawn Johnson caught six passes for 59 yards, including the 60th touchdown reception of his career.

Witten has recorded nine catches twice before in his career, both coming last season, against Detroit and Philadelphia. Against the Eagles, Witten set his career mark with 133 receiving yards.

This season, Witten's best game was against the San Francisco 49ers, where he caught 8 passes for 85 yards in the Cowboys 34-31 victory. He is averaging 4.5 catches-per-game this season for an average of 50.8 yards.

Bledsoe connected with his tight end early in the fourth quarter for the touchdown that tied the game at 21, Witten's third touchdown reception of the season and his first since the win over the Giants in Week Six.

"It was just a timing thing," Witten said. "Drew was able to have some time to get it out there, and it was just one of those games. I had a chance to get out there with a lot of the

Of his eight other receptions in the game, four gave the Cowboys a first down.

Even though Denver eventually prevailed in overtime, Witten said the fact the Cowboys ran with the highly-touted Broncos for the entire game should give the team a mental boost going into the last stretch of the season.

"It gives us some confidence," Witten said. "They have a good defense and a good offense, and we gave them everything they could handle. But it does give us confidence for the last five or six games."

Crow Headlines Halftime

A stage filled with eight ballerinas, flanked by purple and blue clouds, and a group of rhythmic gymnasts dancing just in front of the star at midfield might be the last thing you expect to see at an NFL game.

But they were just part of the spectacle as Grammy-winning recording artist Sheryl Crow performed two songs at halftime. Her performance kicked off the 115th Salvation Army Red Kettle Christmas campaign.

Accompanied by a string orchestra as well as her usual band, Crow performed "Good is Good" from her latest album, followed by "If It Makes You Happy." She joins a list of previous halftime performers that includes Destiny's Child, Toby Keith, LeAnn Rimes and Jessica Simpson.

"Recent events revealed a growing need to help others who are less fortunate," Crow said in a release. "I hope others will join me in doing what they can to help their neighbors by contributing to the Red Kettles."

Those Red Kettles were out in force at Texas Stadium Thursday afternoon, with several at each entrance gate as fans filed into Texas Stadium. A record $102 million was raised last year through the Red Kettles, which will make their annual appearance outside retail stores and shopping malls tomorrow and stay up until Christmas Eve.

Henry Sits Again

Although he was listed as probable all week, cornerback Anthony Henry was inactive for Thursday's game against the Denver Broncos after suffering a setback with his injured groin last Sunday in the win over Detroit. Aaron Glenn once again took his place in the starting lineup and Jacques Reeves slid into the nickel corner role.

Glenn tied for second on the team with four tackles.

Henry, one of the Cowboys best defenders in the first half of the season, injured his groin late in the win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week Eight. He missed one game before returning as a nickel corner in last Sunday's win over the Lions and did not miss any practice this week, according to the Cowboys injury report.

Also inactive for the game was inside linebacker Scott Shanle, who tweaked his ankle in the win over the Lions. Like Henry, Shanle was listed as probable and did not miss practice.

Second-year linebacker Ryan Fowler started in his place, rotating with veteran Dat Nguyen, who came in on nickel downs. Fowler recorded two tackles Thursday afternoon.

Newman Shines

With Henry out of the lineup, third-year cornerback Terence Newman had some big shoes to fill, and he was very effective against the Broncos Thursday afternoon.

Newman intercepted a Jake Plummer pass, the first interception Plummer has thrown since Week 2, and recovered a Mike Anderson fumble later in the game. Both turnovers led to Cowboys touchdowns.

The corner was also tied for second on the team with four tackles and led the team with two passes defensed. He also returned punts, recording two fair catches and having a decent run late in the first half nullified by an illegal block penalty.

He also ran down Broncos running back Ron Dayne in overtime as Dayne appeared headed for the end zone on a long run. Newman forced Dayne out of bounds at the six, but Elam connected on a 24-yard field goal on the next play.

Game Points

  • This was only the second Thanksgiving Day game in club history to go to overtime, the other being a 44-38 loss to Minnesota in 1987. This is the fourth season in club history the Cowboys have played two overtime games, and the first time the club has played two overtime games at Texas Stadium. In each season, the Cowboys won the first overtime game and lost the second.
  • Glenn suffered a scary moment late in the fourth quarter when he went down awkwardly and landed on his head. Trainers attended to him for several minutes on the field before helping him off, but he only missed one play, momentarily dazing himself. His four tackles on the day gave him 603 for his career.
  • Defensive end Greg Ellis recorded his eighth sack of the season against the Broncos, one shy of his career-high of nine that he recorded in 2004. It was also his fourth straight game with a sack, and he has at least half-a-sack in nine games this season. He also recorded three tackles, pushing him past the 500 tackle plateau with 501 career tackles.
  • Besides Henry and Shanle, the Cowboys also had Ethan Brooks, Stephen Peterman, Marc Colombo, Patrick Crayton and Thomas Johnson listed as inactive with Drew Henson as the third quarterback. The Broncos were missing running back Tatum Bell, who was also inactive for the game.

Short Shots

Coming into the game, the Cowboys and Broncos sat first and second in the NFL in time-of-possession, and the Cowboys clearly won that battle Thursday. Even with overtime factored in, the Cowboys had 36:30 of possession to Denver's 24:51 . . . Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was liberal with the use of the challenge flag early, and it may have cost the Broncos later. Shanahan challenged two plays early in the second quarter, only one of which was eventually overturned. Later, he said he wanted to challenge Newman's fumble recovery but had run out of challenges since he only got one of the two challenges correct . . . Shanahan was also highly complementary of the Cowboys as a team, saying, "The Cowboys have an excellent football team. That was the closest game we played all year" . . . Second-year receiver Terrance Copper, playing more with the offense with Patrick Crayton injured, caught his first pass of the season, a five-yard reception in the first quarter . . . Punter Mat McBriar had his best game of the season, punting five times with a net average of 42.0 yards per punt, two of which were downed inside the 20.

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