- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Manning leads the league in every major passing category entering Sunday's game at AT&T Stadium, having thrown for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns without an interception during Denver's 4-0 start. Those numbers, along with Manning's 138.0 passer rating, project to shatter NFL records for a season.
Naturally, Manning's spectacular start has provided ample fodder for media questioning in the Cowboys' locker room this week.
"I'm sick of hearing about Peyton Manning this and that and that," said linebacker Ernie Sims, who expects to replace struggling starter Bruce Carter in the lineup Sunday. "We've got to go out and do what we've got to do. You hear it all the time. Guys walk in the locker room: 'Peyton Manning threw for four touchdowns, this and that.' I'm just sick of it.
"Yeah, he's a great player. Can't take that away from him. But at the end of the day, we're all competitors. Me being a competitor, I don't like that. I'm ready. I'm ready to play football."
Before declining to take questions and declaring himself "closed to the media this week," perennial Pro Bowl pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware said, "All y'all want to do is talk about Peyton Manning."
The Dallas defense, which ranks 27th in the league against the pass at 304.5 yards allowed per game, already has surrendered two 400-yard passing games -- a first in franchise history in the same season.
Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns but was intercepted three times in the New York Giants' Week 1 loss to the Cowboys. Philip Rivers scorched Dallas' D for 401 yards and three touchdowns on 35-of-42 passing, setting an NFL record for completion percentage, in leading the San Diego Chargers to a win last week.
Next come Manning's Broncos, prompting Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to chuckle and blurt out "that's not good" in the wake of Rivers' outing.
"Don't think for one minute we're scared," defensive tackle Jason Hatcher told reporters. "We ain't scared of nobody. I don't really care who it is. They're going to make plays. Any team can make plays against you. We just have to play 60 minutes of football, very sound football against a great quarterback.
"We have respect for him, but at the end of the day, they got to have respect for us as well. We're not a pushover team at all. We're definitely ready to play."
Manning's Broncos have appeared unstoppable this season, leading the league in yardage (483.0 per game) and points (44.8).
However, the Cowboys beat Manning the last two times they faced him while he quarterbacked the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts were 9-0 before losing to Dallas in 2006. Manning threw for 365 yards but was intercepted four times in an overtime loss to the Cowboys in 2010.
"He can be beat," Hatcher said. "But at the same time, you have to respect a guy like that. He's probably one of the best. When he leaves this game, he'll be the greatest who ever did it, so of course you respect him.
"You see what he does week in and week out. We have our work cut out for us. We're excited about the challenge. I know I am. I enjoy playing against a guy like that."