Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is set to retire on Monday. One of the game's greatest quarterbacks faced the Dallas Cowboys five times, going 3-2 in those meetings. Here's a review of each of Manning's performances against the Cowboys during his Hall of Fame career.
Oct. 6, 2013: Denver 51, Dallas 48 (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas)
This was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at the height of their powers. That season Manning threw for 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. It was the year they reached Super Bowl XLVIII against Seattle. It was the year Manning won his fifth Associated Press MVP award. Their matchup with the Cowboys might have been the most exciting regular-season game of that year. Manning threw for 414 yards, four touchdowns and one interception that day. Instead of trying to slow the game down, the Cowboys actually went toe-to-toe with Denver's supreme offense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 506 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. It was Manning, of course, who calmly drove the Broncos to 10 points in the final 2:39, a 1-yard Knowshon Moreno touchdown run and then, after a Cowboys turnover, a 28-yard Matt Prater field goal as time expired. If you were there in person, consider yourself lucky. That might have been the apex of Manning's post-Indianapolis career.
Dec. 5, 2010: Dallas 38, Indianapolis 35 (Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.)
The Cowboys had 10 days to prep for the Colts, thanks to their post-Thanksgiving Day game break. Oddly, I was at the Colts' previous game, a 36-14 shellacking against the San Diego Chargers in Indy the weekend after Thanksgiving. I was on a road trip that weekend and I drove up to Indy after taking in the Egg Bowl (Mississippi State at Ole Miss) in Oxford, Miss., that Saturday. It was a long drive for an awful game. The loss to Dallas marked Indy's third straight loss, a rarity with Manning at quarterback. And this loss was on Manning, who threw for 365 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Meanwhile, Dallas was led by Jon Kitna's 167 yards passing and Tashard Choice's 100 yards rushing as the Cowboys wrapped up their half-season under interim head coach Jason Garrett. Tony Romo did not play due to his broken left clavicle (sound familiar?). By the way, the Cowboys won the game on a 38-yard David Buehler field goal in overtime.
Nov. 19, 2006: Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14 (Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas)
It was the fourth start of Tony Romo's career. Four days later, on Thanksgiving Day, Romo would single-handedly destroy Tampa Bay (306 yards passing, five touchdowns passes) and the "Romo Revolution" would be underway. I was at that Bucs game, covering the Bucs for a paper in Florida at the time. It was incredible what he and Dallas did to Tampa Bay that day. But when Indy came to town the story was about Indy being undefeated (9-0), and the last undefeated team in the NFL that season. Defense defined the day. Dallas' unit held Manning to 254 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Romo's day was pedestrian — 226 yards passing and an interception. In the fourth quarter Cowboys running back Marion Barber brought the hammer, rushing for two touchdowns to lead the Cowboys to victory. Manning was certainly disappointed that day. But a few months later I was in Miami at Super Bowl XLI watching Manning hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.
Nov. 17, 2002: Indianapolis 20, Dallas 3 (Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Ind.)
By the time the Dallas Cowboys arrived in Indy, they were 3-6 and coming off a bye. They were on their way to 5-11. Emmitt Smith was playing out his last season, but a few weeks earlier had passed Walter Payton to become the game's all-time leading rusher. Head coach Dave Campo would be fired by season's end, replaced by Bill Parcells. This game was a blip on the radar screen for Manning, who threw for 252 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Cowboys' starting quarterback that day? C'mon, you know it? Chad Hutchinson, who threw for 131 yards and was sacked five times. But it proved to be an interesting content. Dallas actually led 3-0 and, thanks to a game effort by the Dallas defense, the game was tied 3-3 entering the fourth quarter before Manning worked his magic, leading the Colts to 17 points in the final 13 minutes, including two touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison.
Oct. 31, 1999: Indianapolis 34, Dallas 24 (Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Ind.)
It didn't take long for Manning to figure out the NFL. After his rookie season in 1998, in which he famously threw for a league-leading 28 interceptions, he led the Colts to a 13-3 record in 1999. He met the Cowboys for the first time on Halloween and it proved to be a treat for everyone. It would represent the only time Manning would square off with Troy Aikman. Aikman threw for 159 yards and was sacked four times. Manning, meanwhile, threw for 313 yards and a touchdown. So then where the heck did all the points come from? Well, this was 1999 after all. Emmitt Smith rushed for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Warren added another rushing score. Colts running back Edgerrin James rushed for 117 yards and one score. Ultimately Mike Vanderjagt's four field goals were the difference for Indy, including two late kicks that extended Indy's four-point lead to the final margin.
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