4:15 PM ET, November 19, 2006
Texas Stadium, Irving, TX
Indianapolis (9-0) at Dallas (5-4) Sunday 4:15 pm EST
The only team in NFL history to start 9-0 in consecutive seasons, the Colts have already beaten three first-place teams - the New York Giants, Denver and New England - on the road in their latest quest for perfection.
Last season, the Colts were 13-0 before losing at home to San Diego.
Indianapolis almost didn't make it that far this time. Last week, the Colts held on for a 17-16 win over the Buffalo Bills after Rian Lindell pushed a 41-yard field goal attempt wide right with 6:22 left in the fourth quarter.
Dallas is tied with Philadelphia, one game behind the Giants in the NFC East. The Cowboys will play five of their last seven games at home, starting Sunday against Indianapolis followed by a Thanksgiving Day contest against Tampa Bay, and appear to be rejuvenated with Tony Romo at quarterback.
Romo will make his first start at Texas Stadium after going 2-1 on the road. Cowboys coach Bill Parcells benched quarterback Drew Bledsoe at halftime in the Cowboys' last home game - a 36-22 loss to the Giants.
Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois in 2003, Romo has completed 44-of-65 for 862 yards and five touchdowns with one interception in his three starts. Last week, he was 20-of-29 for 308 yards and two scores in a 27-10 win at Arizona.
"I'm not surprised at all by him," Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said of Romo. "He can create with his arm and his feet."
Owens caught five passes for 96 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown in the win at Arizona. Patrick Crayton started for injured Terry Glenn and had five receptions for 104 yards, including a 30-yard score.
Despite being unbeaten, the Colts have the league's worst run defense. Last week, they yielded 109 yards on 28 carries to Anthony Thomas in the win over Buffalo.
Julius Jones and Marion Barber hope to pound away against the Colts on Sunday. The duo combined for 110 yards on 29 carries in the win at Arizona.
Parcells will try to figure out a way to contain Peyton Manning, who has passed for 2,527 yards and 18 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
This game should have extra significance for kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who was shunned aside by the Colts in favor of Adam Vinatieri before signing with Dallas.
The 36-year-old Vanderjagt converted 217-of-248 field-goal attempts (87.5 percent) in his eight-year career with Indianapolis. But Vanderjagt did not come through when the Colts needed him most, missing a 46-yard attempt with 17 seconds left in a 21-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoffs in January.
That turned out to be his last kick with the Colts, who made Vinatieri the NFL's highest-paid kicker with a five-year contract that is worth $7.5 million in the first three years.
This season, Vanderjagt has made 12-of-15 field goals, including a long of 50 yards.
Vinatieri has made 17-of-19 field goals with Indianapolis.
The teams have not met since November 2002 - a 20-3 victory for the Colts as Harrison caught 14 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
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The Colts are the only undefeated team left in the NFL and are trying to get to that perfect season, but must get past the Cowboys this week. Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense have had problems with defenses that play a 3-4 front in the past, and we will see if that trend continues this week. Dallas has looked better on offense since Tony Romo has taken over and is 2-1 with Romo as the starter. The Cowboys will look to end the Colts' winning streak this week in Dallas.
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|Avg Points Allowed||21.0||18.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||IND|
|Rush Yds Allowed||IND|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 1-1|
|Nov 17, 2002||IND 20, DAL 3|