IRVING -- If the Dallas Cowboys are going to sack Eli Manning, something's going to have to change.
In the past five games against him, the Cowboys have sacked the New York Giants' quarterback twice.
In 193 pass attempts.
That's barely 1 percent of the time.
No wonder he's 4-1 in that stretch against the Cowboys, with 1,650 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Three weeks ago, Manning dropped back 47 times, threw for 400 yards and wasn't sacked. The Giants won 37-34 to tie the Cowboys for the lead in the NFC East.
If that 1 percent sack rate holds again Sunday night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Manning and the Giants will likely walk off with the NFC East championship.
"It's very important with any quarterback -- you have to get back there and pressure them and make them make mistakes," nose tackle Jay Ratliff said. "That's what we're going to do. Like I said, we have a great game plan. Everyone is ready to go, especially the rushers."
The Cowboys hope a simplified defensive game plan leads to better pressure. The defense, under new coordinator Rob Ryan, has its share of sacks -- 40, which is a top-10 figure in the NFL -- and the league's second-leading sack man, linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
But the Cowboys' pass pressure is not consistent. The Cowboys couldn't get a sack to stop a game-tying drive at Washington.
They couldn't get a sack to stop Arizona's game-winning possession in overtime.
And they couldn't get a sack to stop Manning as he produced two touchdown drives in the final 5:41 to win the Dec. 11 game at Cowboys Stadium. The best the Cowboys could do was force one intentional grounding penalty.
"He was getting rid of the ball fast. Very fast," Ratliff said. "We did make some mistakes. We know what those things were. Some of them were obvious. We simplified the game plan, so we won't do that again. We'll be playing fast and furious, and more than anything, we'll be confident in what we're doing."
Ratliff, with two sacks, is one of seven Cowboys players with a sack this season.
Ware has 18 (on the verge of becoming the first NFL player with two 20-sack seasons), linebacker Anthony Spencer has six, and defensive end Jason Hatcher has four.
But they are the only members of the starting front seven with a sack.
"We just have to be our best," coach Jason Garrett said. "We have to win at the line of scrimmage. We have to win at the back end, and we have to be productive tacklers."
Linebacker Sean Lee, the Cowboys' leading tackler, said it's about more than just sacks.
"We have to do a number of things," he said. "We have to play a complete game. We have to get to him. We've got to pressure him. We've got to cover better. And we can't make mistakes. I think that's something throughout the game, whenever we played well was when we didn't make mistakes; we were able to get to them. Whenever they did make plays, we didn't execute."
Maybe the Cowboys didn't execute. Maybe Manning has just been a little bit better than them.
"He has a great understanding of that offense, where all of his people are, and then also handling the situation that he's in," Garrett said. "I thought he did that a number of times in the game.
"And from our standpoint, you've got to keep trying to affect him. The goal is certainly to sack the quarterback. You want to pressure the quarterback, and you want to affect the quarterback a lot of different ways. And he's a hard one to do that to."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407