IRVING, Texas – Jason Witten knows the situation. He knows exactly where he stands on the Cowboys' receptions list and knows he needs four catches to pass Michael Irvin as the franchise's all-time leading receiver.
But Witten being Witten … he's really only focused on getting one – as in a victory.
Witten is respectful to records and milestones and certainly to great players such as Irvin who came before him. But being one of the team leaders and captains, Witten also knows he owes it to his teammates to put his primary focus on the Falcons, who just so happen to be 7-0 with the best record in the NFL.
So Witten isn't running away from the record, and he'll surely embrace it when it happens, but it's safe to say he's excited about getting past it.
"I don't think you ever try to get caught up in that," Witten said. "Obviously, you know what's going on. You don't really like talking about it until it happens because you're so focused on winning. You guys know me well enough … that's most important.
"It's obviously special because he's is one of the greatest. Just to be mentioned with Michael Irvin, it's special. Hopefully, we'll have a good discussion after a big win about it, once it happens. Until then, my focus is trying to help this team win."
Witten has 747 career catches, just three behind Irvin's mark of 750. It seems pretty safe to assume Witten get four Sunday night, especially considering he had a franchise record 18 receptions just last week against the Giants. Witten has 51 in seven outings so far this year, averaging 7.2 catches a game. And that includes a slow start to the season when he was battling through a lacerated spleen injury.
Witten is obviously back to form now and closing in on Irvin's record, which he accomplished in 159 games, spanning 12 seasons. Witten is in his 10th year, but is playing his 151st game Sunday in Atlanta.
While the two players obviously play different positions, and of course, have different personalities, head coach Jason Garrett doesn't see a ton of differences. Garrett was a teammate of Irvin's from 1992-99 and has coached Witten now for six seasons.
"When you look at those two guys, their exterior might be different but they're all about the same thing," Garrett said. "Each of those guys is as good a teammate as I've been around, as passionate about this game as I've been around, works as hard at this game as anybody I've ever been around. They show up to work every day and they do things the right way."
Garrett said they're an example of two players with opposite styles that have the same approach.
"Michael is obviously flamboyant. Jason is not quite as flamboyant. But the passion in both of those guys is there. A lot of different personalities get this thing done. The common denominator between great players, great coaches, great teams is a passion and intensity for the game, and each of those guys has it. I've been real fortunate to be around both of them. I've learned a ton from them and I really, really appreciate the opportunity just to be in their presence."
Witten said he admires Irvin's determination and toughness more than anything else. And he said passing him, along with all of the other great receivers such as Drew Pearson, Bob Hayes and Tony Hill, is a great feat.
"This is the greatest franchise in all of sports. There have been a lot of great skill players to play here," Witten said. "But I'm a little uncomfortable talking about it. Let's not talk too soon. Let's wait until we get there."
And even when it happens, Witten said the time to reflect on such accomplishments probably won't occur until after the season, or maybe even after that.
"There's no question when you're on that journey, you want to be the best," Witten said. "There are special moments that every player has as individuals, but the ultimate goal is to win those championships. We don't have that. For me, that's the ultimate quest that you're on. It'll be special if it happens. There's been a lot of hard work, but right now, I'm just focused on helping us get a win this week."