MIAMI – He might have been primarily concerned with getting a win, but Jason Witten was well aware of what it meant to pass Bob Lilly.
Just by suiting up and playing on Sunday, the Cowboys' All-Pro tight end passed Lilly for the franchise record of most consecutive games played. During a 14-year span from 1961-1974, Lilly – or "Mr. Cowboy" – appeared in 196 games.
The 24-14 win against Miami made 197 for Witten, who has only missed one career game – all the way back in 2003, during his rookie year.
"I've said it before, when you come within this organization you learn really quick who Mr. Cowboy is and not just the way he played but how he played," Witten said. "And I'm honored to be able to pass him and have his respect."
Witten will have to wait at least a few days for another chance at history. With two catches for 27 yards, he sits six receptions away from 1,000 for his career. That in itself is proof of his longevity, even if he didn't have a 197-game streak as proof.
"Nobody does that," said Tony Romo. "I think you forget sometimes. You take Jason Witten for granted, because he literally is the best at what he does. He's a professional. I've never played in a game where Jason Witten didn't play. That never happens."
The accolades will continue to pile up for Witten, who is undoubtedly heading for a similar status to Lilly – both the franchise's Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For his part, Witten turned the attention on those that helped him reach this point.
"There have been a lot of great Cowboys, and I just appreciate all the people that helped me get here week in and week out and I hope that we can continue," he said.
Go Get It
Last week, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave Terrance Williams some useful advice. Even Garrett couldn't have predicted it would pay off so quickly.
"It just came down to earlier this week, Coach Garrett pulled me to the side during our team period one day, on Wednesday, and he said, 'When the ball is thrown in the air, you have to go and pluck it out of the air. Stop waiting on the ball to come to you,'" Williams said.
Flash forward to Sunday, when Romo broke out of the pocket and saw Williams situated between two Dolphins defenders. Romo heaved a 31-yard bomb and split the cornerback and safety, leaving Williams to make a play.
He did exactly that, skying over both defenders to bring in the touchdown and take a 14-0 lead.
"Whenever Coach Garrett, or somebody like that, tells me something like that -- I try my best to do what he tells me," Williams said. "The prime example showed up today and the same thing he told me, I put it to good use today."
Williams finished the game with four catches for 79 yards and the touchdown. It was his best outing since Romo's last game, a seven-catch, 84-yard effort in Philadelphia. When he returned to the sideline in Miami, he said he knew Garrett would be waiting for him.
"Yeah, he smiled and I smiled back and we both knew what he was talking about," Williams said. "It's just one of those things where whenever Coach Garrett tells me something, I really try my best to do it."
Rookie Roughed Up
It was a rough day for Byron Jones – and in more ways than one.
The rookie, starting his first game at cornerback while Morris Claiborne was injured, drew the tough assignment of covering Dolphins receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. It didn't go so well, as he surrendered a 47-yard gain to Landry to set up Miami's first touchdown. Later in the afternoon, he gave up a 29-yard touchdown to Stills.
Jones literally added injury to insult at the end of the game, as he left the field in the waning seconds with an apparent leg injury.
The rookie took to Twitter after the game to alleviate those concerns.
Sunday was just one small step in the right direction, but it's fair to say Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was pleased with what he saw.
The Cowboys' ground game controlled the afternoon, and Tony Romo overcame saw early rust to make several game-changing plays. That combination allowed the Dallas defense to make plays and hold the Dolphins in check.
To hear it from Jones, it was the type of performance he was expecting when the Cowboys broke training camp in August.
"The No. 1 value in this game is that our fans can see the team that we thought we were going to be when we started the season," he said. "Now, we didn't dream we'd be playing as much without Romo, but that's the team that we thought we would be."
That's cold comfort to the Cowboys. Strenuous circumstances or not they still lost seven-straight games, and their playoff hopes are in jeopardy as a result. Still, Jones said it's important that the Cowboys give a good accounting of themselves down the stretch.
"We'll go one-by-one as to anything to do about playoffs, but my dream is for this team to show our fans – even though the numbers are not anything like win-loss – this is the team that we are," he said. "So at the end of the day, when we're through, these players and me and Coach Garrett and the other coaches, we'll always have this team."