Broncos-Cowboys Preview

John Fox insists it’s not just coach-speak when he says his

unbeaten Denver Broncos have plenty of room for improvement.

He, of course, isn’t referring to their stellar aerial game led

by Peyton Manning, who Sunday will face a Dallas Cowboys defense

that hasn’t been very good against the pass.

Manning is off the best start of his career heading into his

first visit to Dallas’ $1.2 billion stadium. He leads the league in

completions (117), completion percentage (75.0), yards (1,470),

touchdowns (16) and passer rating (138.0) while not throwing an


Manning went 28 of 34 for 327 yards and four touchdowns – two

each to Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker – before sitting out the

fourth quarter of a 52-20 win over Philadelphia on Sunday. Denver

set a team record for points.

The Broncos are averaging league bests of 44.8 points and 483.0

yards of offense. Last week’s win was a team-record 15th straight

in the regular season, and Manning extended his streak of throwing

at least one TD pass to 27 games.

“He’s efficient, man,” defensive back Champ Bailey said. “And

hopefully he gets better – I don’t know how, but hopefully he does

– because this guy’s a prime example of what it takes to be a great

quarterback in this league.

“I know a lot of quarterbacks wish they could do it like


Despite Manning’s success, Fox doesn’t think his team is perfect

despite the Broncos (4-0) getting off to such a solid start. He may

be nitpicking, but he’d like to see more from the running game and

better defense in the fourth quarter.

Denver averaged 86.0 yards rushing in its first two contests,

though that has increased to 152.5 over the last two. The Broncos

have allowed a touchdown in the final quarter of each game.

“It’s still early in the season and I expect us to get better,”

Fox said. “People look at me funny when I say that, but there’s

still a lot of areas we need to improve at and can improve at.”

The last time Manning faced the Cowboys, he went 36 of 48 for

365 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions in

Indianapolis’ 38-35 overtime loss Dec. 5, 2010.

Dallas (2-2) is hoping it can have that kind of success against

Manning this time around as well, especially after allowing 506

yards and 20 unanswered points in a 30-21 loss to San Diego on


The Cowboys gave up 401 yards and three touchdowns through the

air and are tied with Minnesota and the New York Giants for worst

in the league with 10 TD passes allowed.

They rank 27th in the league in pass defense at 304.5 yards per


“Yeah, we made mistakes, but it’s never going to happen again,”

defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “People say never say never, but

I feel like it’s never going to happen again playing a game like

that. That’s just the way I feel about it.”

Coach Jason Garrett realizes that Manning is just a part of the

challenge his defense faces this week. Welker is tied for the NFL

lead with six touchdown receptions and Thomas is tied for sixth

with 393 receiving yards.

“He’s obviously as good of a quarterback who has ever played

this game, and he’s got a lot of weapons,” Garrett said. “Not only

do you have this incredibly good quarterback who has a great

understanding of what he wants to do, but he’s got some weapons to

do it with.”

Tony Romo is having a solid season with eight touchdowns and one

interception while ranking fourth with a 105.0 passer rating. He’s

completed 72.4 percent of his passes – his career best in a full

season is 66.3 percent in 2011 – after going 27 of 37 for 244 yards

and two touchdowns last week, both to Dez Bryant.

DeMarco Murray ran for 70 yards against the Chargers and is

third in the league with 356 on the season, but Denver is allowing

a league-low 74.0 rushing yards per game. The Broncos are 30th with

an average of 316.3 passing yards allowed, but Garrett believes

that number has been inflated due to Denver holding large leads in

each contest.

“If you analyze the statistics, they’ve been ahead in a lot of

games and teams have had to throw the ball and not run it quite as

much,” Garrett said. “They’re very stout against the run, and

they’re willing to give up those (passing) yards to win the


Broncos weakside linebacker Danny Trevathan is questionable

after suffering a knee injury toward the end of Wednesday’s

practice. Trevathan, a second-year pro, is second on the team with

30 tackles and 24 unassisted tackles and has a sack, an

interception and four pass breakups.

Denver has won four straight meetings with Dallas, taking the

most recent one 17-10 on Oct. 4, 2009.