Giants quarterback Eli Manning dropped back to pass 47 times against the Cowboys on Dec. 11. Not only was he not sacked, Manning was barely touched. The Cowboys were credited with only two quarterback hurries in the game. Manning passed for 400 yards in completing 27 passes.
"The offensive line did a great job -- the running backs picking up protection -- so we were able to extend some plays and scramble around and hit some big plays," Manning said on a conference call with media at Valley Ranch on Wednesday. "We know they obviously are a very talented front seven. ...I had a number of throwaways and different things, so avoided some sacks. They definitely cause some issues. We understand that. We're going to have a great plan to try to slow those guys down a little bit and give us a chance to throw the ball down the field."
Cowboys defenders credit Manning for getting rid of the ball quickly, though they also feel like they missed some opportunities to pressure the Giants quarterback.
"You really can’t make an excuse, but he was getting the ball out really quick," linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "He is an elusive guy. You’ve got to give him credit. He did really well avoiding the rush, but we’ve got to change some things up, get some more pressure on him if he’s going to pass that much and get some more pressure on him this game."
Manning led the Giants on drives of 80 and 58 yards as New York overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Cowboys players say the game plan has been "simplified" for this game.
"He was getting rid of the ball fast, very fast," nose tackle Jay Ratliff said. "We did make some mistakes. We know what those things were. Some of them were obvious. We simplified the game plan, so we won’t do that again. We’ll be playing fast and furious and more than anything, we’ll be confident in what we’re doing."
The Cowboys' 40 sacks ties them with Denver for seventh in the league. Ware is tied for second among individual rushers with 18, only a half sack behind Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen. Ware has led the league in sacks twice -- last season when he had 15.5 and in 2008 when he had 20.
Ware can become the first player in league history with two 20-sack seasons. (Sacks became an official statistic in 1982, after Deacon Jones' career ended. The Hall of Famer unofficially had four 20-sack seasons.)
"It would mean a lot, especially me being a pressure guy, being able to get pressure on the quarterback," Ware said. "If I’m able to get 20 sacks, it’s a big accomplishment. All the guys who came before me, who I looked up to, they haven’t been able to do it. Me coming in and having the opportunity to do it, it really just means a lot."
-- Charean Williams