On December 5, 2010, the Dallas Cowboys, resurgent under interim head coach Jason Garrett, invaded Lucas Oil Stadium to face Peyton Manning and the 6-5 Indianapolis Colts. Even with the Cowboys gaining some momentum after the mid-season firing of Wade Phillips, it seemed likely that the Colts would be able to use the game as a stepping stone to regain momentum and climb back into the thick of the AFC South race. The football gods would have different ideas.
Dallas was riding a wave of success following the coaching change but Peyton Manning was being forced to ride a wave of his own. In the proceeding two games Manning had a three-interception outing followed by a four-pick game. It was the worst stretch of his professional career. The Dallas secondary was looking forward to helping the future Hall Of Fame passer extend his mortal-like experience.
On the game, Manning did put up some very Peyton-like statistics. He completed 36 of 48 passing attempts for 365 yards and two touchdown strikes. In short, he put up the numbers that you would expect from Peyton Manning. Along with that, he also put up some figures that many would assume to be more Eli Manning-like. For the first time in his career, Peyton tossed his second-consecutive four-interception outing. Two of those interceptions resulted in pick-sixes for the Dallas defense. Each of the turnovers resulted in points for the Cowboys.
In the post game press conference, Manning took his continued down streak in stride. When asked about the interceptions he responded :
"It isn't good when you're having to ask which one is it? I don't make any excuses. I'm continuing to throw, I'll keep throwing. I hope I throw it to our guys." - Peyton Manning
Cowboys fans will likely remember the game as the coming out party for rookie linebacker Sean Lee. He was the recipient of Manning's third interception, one which he returned 31 yards to score his first professional touchdown. Lee was not through. Even with the miscues, the Colts managed to stay in the game and forced matters into overtime. During the added stanza, the reserve linebacker again came through for the Cowboys. On third and one, Lee, thanks to a Mike Jenkins pass deflection, was able to get his hands on a Peyton Manning pass and he set sail once again into Indianapolis territory.
The significance of the Dallas defense's performance was not lost on the rookie out of Penn State.
"He's probably the best quarterback to ever play the game and to have four interceptions on him is unbelievable for us. It just shows the type of work we've been putting in in practice." - Sean Lee
Lee's second pick did not result in an immediate score, but it did set up David Buehler for a game winning field goal. He split the uprights from 38 yards out, and the Cowboys escaped Indianapolis with a 38-35 victory.