No One-Trick Ponies

To the casual observer, it's easy to settle on "the identity" of the Indianapolis Colts. Calling the Peyton Manning-led Colts a passing machine is like saying the Phoenix Suns like to get out in transition and push the ball up the court: no kidding.

But to listen to head coach Bill Parcells tell it, Dallas actually will have to play both defense and offense in order to compete with the Colts. The Indianapolis defense, he said, starts with two very effective defensive linemen.

Defensive end Dwight Freeney has earned national acclaim as perhaps the fastest defensive end in the NFL, a slightly undersized blur who can fly past would-be blockers and has added improved strength and an array of technical moves to get to opposing quarterbacks. Not coincidentally, Freeney is one of the most feared pass rushers in the entire NFL. Freeney will go head-to-head this Sunday with Dallas left tackle Flozell Adams.

"You've got a big, powerful man (Adams) against a quick, explosive, high-motor, high-effort guy (Freeney)," Parcells said. "This kid (Freeney) is just a really good football player -- he's a football- playin' dude."

Parcells said that while he doesn't know Freeney personally, he does have one unusual source for insight into Freeney's talents.

"I've got his (college) coach (Dallas linebackers coach and former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni) right sitting down the hall," Parcells said. "The kid makes so many plays. He's one of those guys who has attributes that you don't always see. But with this kid, it's so out there (in the open) you can't miss it."

The Colts also have more of a potent run-stuffer on their defensive line than they often have had in years past. Defensive tackle Corey Simon filled that role over the last couple of seasons, but when Simon went down for the season, Indianapolis acquired Anthony "Booger" McFarland in a trade with the Tamp Bay Buccaneers.

Guard Marco Rivera said that for the Cowboys to compete with the high- powered Colts, they have to keep the Indianapolis offense off the field, which will mean running the ball effectively.

"It's no secret we have to keep their offense off the field," Rivera said. "They (the Indianapolis defensive linemen) like to slant a lot and move a lot, and they like to bring their free safety and strong safety down into the box. (Dallas running backs) Julius (Jones) and Marion (Barber) are going to have to block those guys (when the Cowboys are in pass protection."

The key player in the Indianapolis secondary is safety Bob Sanders, who has been injured and whose status for Sunday's game has not yet been determined. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton said he doesn't know whether Sanders would play this weekend … but admitted he wouldn't mind if Sanders needed one more week off to be fully healthy.

"He's a big part of their secondary," Crayton said. "He's like their Roy Williams. I don't think he's a big coverage guy, but he's a big alley-runner. You've got to always be aware of him."

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