IRVING – A few years ago, he was an average quarterback who looked like his mom just woke him up from a nap. Now, Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion and one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
"He's one of the top five quarterbacks in the league, hands down," said Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. "He's smart, throws the ball well, gets out of trouble, gets out of sacks."
"It seems like he just keeps getting better," said linebacker Anthony Spencer. "He executes, he doesn't put his team at risk, he doesn't really turn the ball over."
Manning has been especially good against the Cowboys and even better at their new stadium. In the first-ever game at Cowboys Stadium in 2009, the Giants won 33-31. Manning threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
In 2010, the Giants won again, 41-35. Manning threw for 306 yards and overcame three interceptions by throwing four touchdown passes.
"When you think about quarterbacks, sometimes they give up. But there's no give-up in Eli," said linebacker DeMarcus Ware. "He plays relentless. He sort of plays with the tenacity of a defensive player."
And last year, in a game that could have knocked the Giants out of playoff contention, New York won 37-34, and Manning threw for 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Cowboys have never scored fewer than 31 points against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium, and they're 0-3.
"These guys ran the score up on us before," said defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "Our goal is to play better, get after it. They're the Super Bowl champs; we're going to do the best we can."
The implications of Sunday's game are clear: If the Cowboys beat the Giants for the second time, they basically take control of the division. But to do that, they need to stop Manning and the Giants offense, something they've never done at the new stadium.